LPS Colloquium on Plasma Science & Application featuring Dr. Dennis Whyte



Clark Hall 700


SPARC and the High-field Path to Fusion Energy

Dr. Dennis Whyte
Director, MIT Plasma Science & Fusion Center;
Hitachi America Professor of Engineering

The advent of REBCO high-temperature superconductors at commercial scale has changed the development path for producing fusion energy with magnetic confinement. The design and test of a large-bore B>20 tesla peak field superconducting magnet at MIT PSFC, in collaboration with Commonwealth Fusion Systems, realizes a doubling of the allowed B field compared to previous state of the art.  This realizes extremely large gains in fusion performance fusion power density scales as B4 and access to ignition as ~B5 at fixed plasma physics. These gains in turn allow for operation away from limits, yet in much smaller and less expensive devices. CFS is presently constructing the high-B tokamak SPARC outside Boston with MIT as its major scientific collaborator, with the goal of demonstrating high fusion energy gain and fusion power density that propels fusion into the commercial energy sector. In addition to describing SPARC, parallel key fusion technology development programs will be described.

Host: Gennady Shvets

Join us for a reception before the talk from 3:45 until 4:15 p.m.

About the speaker:Dennis G. Whyte is a recognized leader in fusion research, especially in the magnetic confinement of plasmas, Whyte has paved an innovative and faster path to producing fusion energy. He leads the fusion project, SPARC—a compact, high-field, net fusion energy fusion device—in collaboration with private fusion startup Commonwealth Fusion Systems. The core of the SPARC project was formed over eight years ago during a design course led by Whyte to challenge assumptions in fusion. Many of the ideas underpinning the high-field approach—including the use of HTS for high-field, demountable magnets, liquid blankets, and ARC (a fusion power plant concept)—have been conceived of or significantly advanced in his design courses. Whyte has over 350 publications, is a fellow of the American Physical Society, and has served on panels for the National Academies, the United States government, and the Royal Society. In 2018, Whyte received The Fusion Power Associates Board of Directors Leadership Award which is given annually to individuals who have shown outstanding leadership qualities in accelerating the development of fusion. Whyte earned a B. Eng. from the University of Saskatchewan, and an M.S. and Ph.D. from Université du Québec. Photo: by Bryce Vickmar