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The Scientific Challenges of Fusion Power

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Imagine holding a lump of jelly – the plasma – with a few pieces of knitting – a magnetic field – and the plasma is ten times hotter than the core of the sun, while the magnets are held within a few degrees of absolute zero, and you have some idea of the materials challenge…

Fusion is in many ways the perfect energy source. It is abundant, sustainable, safe and it has minimal environmental impact. We have been able to make substantial amounts of Fusion power (16MW) in JET at Culham laboratory. But we have not yet achieved a self sustained fusion burn. In this lecture, Prof. Cowley will review the challenges and the advances in technology that would help fusion become a commercial technology.

Professor Steven Cowley FRS , FREng is a leading theoretical physicist, with a particular interest in nuclear fusion. He is has just taken over as President of Corpus Christi College and joined the Physics Department at Oxford. Prior to this, he was CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, based at Culham, Oxfordshire, leader of the laboratory there and part-time Professor at Imperial College, London. He also has a long and distinguished career at Princeton and UCLA behind him. Professor Cowley acts as an adviser to government, but also finds time to speak in schools; he has made a number of media appearances, including a very popular TED talk on fusion power.

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