Fusion Energy in the Wild

Dr. Xin (Laura) Zhang ’16, Tokamak Energy

Taming the energy of the sun is arguably one of the most difficult challenges that humankind has ever attempted to tackle. Fortunately, much progress has been made on controlled fusion since the detonation of Ivy Mike more than 70 years ago. In this talk I will give an introduction to the concept of magnetic confinement fusion, with an in-depth discussion on the physics of the toroidal device named “tokamaks”. We will discuss the challenges and approaches to computationally model the vastly multi-scale, multi-physics problem of a fusion plasma. Finally, we will turn our attention to the bigger picture and examine the social-economical complexities surrounding the “holy grail of energy”. There is a seismic change in the field of fusion energy. I will attempt to convince you that, with some luck, we are perhaps finally less than 30 years away.