Rachel Myers, 2015, Physics

While nuclear fusion is a promising future source of energy, many challenges still exist with regard to its implementation. One concern is the need to effectively control the heat and particle flux leaving the fusion plasma, since it can potentially damage plasma-facing components. This summer, I worked at PPPL investigating a new theoretical design for a divertor: a device that intercepts heat and particles coming out of a fusion plasma. This new model involved using the pressure of lithium vapor as a stopping mechanism for material leaving the plasma. I used both dedicated fluid-modeling software and my own algorithms to model the motion of the vapor and the trajectories of ions and electrons inside this “vapor box.” This project required me to learn about numerical differential equation-solving techniques as well as thermal and fluid dynamics. I learned about the process of starting a project, as this design was novel, and about perseverance in the face of setbacks. I hope to take inspiration from my summer work and build on what I have learned as I work with Professor Goldston on my senior thesis this year.