Fusion energy is back in the news, with a splashy cover story in a recent issue of TIME magazine. The hope is that fusion reaction can be harnessed to provide long-term energy solutions and save us from our dependence on fossil fuels.
David Schaffner, assistant professor of physics, recently traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to attend the kickoff meeting for the ALPHA project, an ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy) sponsored program aimed at developing technology for possible fusion energy reactors. The ALPHA project brings together nine diverse research groups, ranging from national laboratories to private companies to universities and colleges, to tackle problems encountered in magneto-inertial fusion reactors with solutions that keep an eye toward developing marketable technology.
Professor Schaffner has a joint project with Professor Michael Brown of Swarthmore College to investigate the compressibility of a unique magnetic field configuration which may serve as an ideal target for fusion energy reactors. Experimental work is focused on the Swarthmore Spheromak Experiment (SSX) at Swarthmore College though the three-year project will likely incorporate the help of Bryn Mawr College undergrads and graduate students. Learn more about the program and the various research groups at http://arpa-e.energy.gov/?q=arpa-e-programs/alpha