Korea signs up PPPL to help develop future K-DEMO fusion reactor

First Posted: Jan 11, 2013 08:32 PM EST

Several of the partner countries that are currently building the international experimental fusion reactor ITER, including the EU (with the DEMO reactor), China, Japan and India are already contemplating their own demonstration facilities as the next step toward commercial fusion power. Korea is also doing so with K-DEMO, a next generation reactor as the successor of their K-STAR reactor, and is commencing the first concrete steps towards this goal in 2013.

For that purpose, South Korea's National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI) will fund a pre-conceptual design study with the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) for K-DEMO, the reactor that should become Korea's conceptual demonstration fusion power plant, comparable in size to ITER, but with a projected fusion power of 1 gigawatt, about twice as much as ITER will have.

K-DEMO construction has yet to be approved by the South Korean Government but could be completed in the 2030s and should build further upon the K-STAR operation results.

Plans for the cooperation with PPPL include engineering analysis of K-DEMO design concepts, including the size and shape of the K-DEMO tokamak and the strength of the magnetic fields that will create and control the plasma.

K-DEMO will be a two-stage project. The first stage, called K-DEMO 1, will develop components for the second stage, K-DEMO 2, to produce fusion energy and generate electricity.

K-DEMO is expected to come online several years after ITER, the seven-story tokamak that the European Union, the United States, South Korea, Russia and the three other nations are building in Cadarache, France. ITER is to produce 500 million watts of fusion power for 500 seconds by the late 2020s to showcase the feasibility of fusion energy. Building on that progress, "K-DEMO should be just a small step away from a commercial plant in technology and performance," said George Neilson, head of advanced projects at PPPL, who will oversee the laboratory's role in the cooperative design effort,  in a release.

PPPL has a history of cooperating with South Korea on fusion projects. The laboratory helped design that country's major fusion facility, called KSTAR, in the 1990s and participates in experiments on it.

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