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Alfvén Lecture

The quest for fusion power standing on the shoulders of Hannes Alfvén

Welcome to this year's Alfvén lecture with Professor Steven Cowley.

Cowley is a theoretical physicist and international authority on fusion energy. He is the 7th Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in 2018, and Princeton professor of astrophysical sciences. He was chief executive officer of the UK Atomic Energy Authority & Head of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy 2023

Time: Thu 2023-10-12 17.00 - 18.00


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Language: English

Participating: Sir Steven Cowley

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The worldwide spending on fusion research has increased twofold in the last three years as private companies have joined the quest for fusion power. The need for a sustainable, carbon free energy option to supplement intermittent renewable sources is clear. Fusion, if it can be made to work, is just such an option. However, huge scientific challenges must be surmounted if fusion is to become commercially viable. In the next decade many of these challenges will be addressed on the international experiment ITER that is under construction in France. The new fusion companies are seeking to accelerate the development of a commercial system. But they must also address the challenges of confining a fusing plasma. Over eighty years ago Hannes Alfvén introduced two simple but profound ideas — the Alfvén wave and guiding center motion — that remain at the heart of the challenge. Predictive computational tools that are rooted in Alfvén’s ideas have replaced empirical understanding of fusion systems governed by turbulence in the last decade. Computational exploration and physical understanding of optimum fusion systems has begun and is yielding new and surprising configurations. Cowley will introduce fusion power, the central issues in today’s research and Alfvén’s enduring contribution.

Hosts: Michael Tendler, Professor em., Fusion Plasma Physics. Göran Marklund, Former Head, Space and Plasma Physics Division. Christer Fuglesang, Director, KTH space center

The Alfven lecture is supported by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences through its Nobel Committee for Physics.