MechE Colloquium: How can we box up a star without melting the box?


Event details

Date and time 16.03.2021 12:1513:15  
Speaker Prof. Paolo Ricci, Swiss Plasma Center (SPC), EPFL School of Basic Sciences (SB)
Category Conferences - Seminars
In the edge region of a fusion device the temperature decreases, over only a few centimetres, from a value ten times higher than in the centre of the Sun, to the room temperature of the surrounding solid walls. This extreme gradient, probably the steepest in the Universe, drives highly complex phenomena, including strong turbulence, within the plasma fusion fuel. Turbulence is more complex in plasmas than other fluids due to the interaction of the charged plasma particles with the electromagnetic fields.

At the edge of a fusion device, turbulence can involve powerful nonlinear phenomena on spatial and temporal scales spanning ten orders of magnitude. Turbulence is, moreover, extremely anisotropic and includes the interaction of large-scale fluid and microscopic kinetic phenomena, atomic physics processes, and complex geometry. Turbulence in the edge region determines the heat load on the solid wall, which must remain within the materials limits. Current empirical extrapolations indicate these constraints may be exceeded in future fusion devices.

Therefore, understanding edge turbulence and disentangling its complexity becomes of crucial importance. In fact, this is now recognised as one of the greatest challenges for obtaining successful operation of future fusion reactors. The goal of this talk is to shine some light on the pertinent physics at the edge of a fusion device and illustrate some of our achievements with respect to the fusion program and beyond.

Paolo Ricci earned his master’s degree in nuclear engineering at the Politecnico di Torino, Turin (Italy) in 2000 and his doctoral studies were conducted at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Paolo spent two-and-a-half years as a postdoctoral researcher at Dartmouth College’'s Department of Physics and Astronomy. He joined the EPFL’'s Swiss Plasma Center (SPC), as a EURATOM fellow in 2006, was named Tenure Track Assistant Professor in 2010, and Associate Professor in 2016. He is at the head of the SPC theory group. Paolo is the recipient of the 2016 Teaching Prize of the EPFL Section de Physique.

Practical information

  • General public
  • Free


MechE Colloquium: How can we box up a star without melting the box?