Significant advances have been made in the confinement of reactor-grade plasmas, so that we are now preparing for experiments at the "power breakeven" level in the JET and TFTR experiments. In ITER we will extend the performance of tokamaks into the burning plasma regime, develop the technology of fusion reactors, and produce over a gigawatt of fusion power. Besides taking these crucial steps toward the technical feasibility of fusion, we must also take steps to ensure its economic acceptability. The broad requirements for economically attractive tokamak reactors based on physics advancements have been set forth in a number of studies. An advanced physics data base is emerging from a physics program of concept improvement using existing tokamaks around the world. This concept improvements program is emerging as the primary focus of the U.S. domestic tokamak program, and a key element of that program is the proposed Tokamak Physics Experiment (TPX). With TPX we can develop the scientific data base for compact, continuously-operating fusion reactors, using advanced steady-state control techniques to improve plasma performance. We can develop operating techniques needed to ensure the success of ITER and provide first-time experience with several key fusion reactor technologies. This paper explains the relationships of TPX to the current U.S. fusion physics program, to the ITER program, and to the development of an attractive tokamak demonstration plant for this next stage in the fusion program.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering
- Programmatic framework
- tokamak physics experiment