- Number 295 |
- September 14, 2009
The heart of a nuclear reactor. The coldest reaches of space. To harness one and study the other, we need to understand how materials are changed by radiation. Previous studies said that radiation turns a material’s atoms into ions that smash around like cars in a demolition derby, with each ion car being a hard particle with electrons firmly attached.
Researchers at the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Science, a joint institute of DOE's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University, have produced a hydrogen-rich alloy that could provide insight into the properties of metallic hydrogen. The work is a step toward materials with revolutionary implications for energy science, enabling lossless power transmission, next-generation particle accelerators and even magnetic levitation.
A smaller-scale nuclear reactor that could supply 100 to 300 megawatts of power—enough for a medium-size city—has been designed by Sandia National Laboratories. Advantages of the “right-sized reactor” include the ability to mass-assemble them in factories and to integrate a monitoring system into the design for assuring the safe, secure, and legitimate use of nuclear technology, potentially allowing them to be safely exported to developing countries.
Scientists at the DOE Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have developed a simulation code that accurately models global turbulent transport of plasma using the full geometry of the tokamak device. Plasma is a hot ionized gas that is the fuel for fusion energy production; a tokamak is a type of fusion machine. The large-scale simulation is of microturbulence driven by changes in the electron temperature across the plasma in PPPL's National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX).