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Brendan Shanahan - 20th ISHW

20th International Stellarator-Heliotron Workshop in Greifswald, Germany
Report by Brendan Shanahan. Powered by FuseNet

The International Stellarator and Heliotron Workshop (ISHW) occurs every two years and covers the leading research in stellarator physics from around the world. This year's workshop was based in Greifswald, the location of the soon-to-be-commisioned Wendelstein 7-X, the largest advanced stellarator in the world.

Me at W7-X

Stellarators are a promising alternative magnetic confinement concept for fusion energy. The main advantage of stellarators and do not rely on a plasma current for confinement. This in turn means that (unlike tokamaks), they are inherently steady state and not prone to disruptions. Of course, there are still issues to overcome before a stellarator power plant becomes reality.

This workshop showcased some of the most prominent recent research in stellarator physics. Being a theorist, I was most impressed with the work of Carson Cook presented by Professor Chris Hegna of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Cook and his colleagues have discovered a new Alfven eigenmode which is generated near magnetic islands (and is aptly called the Island Alfven Eigenmode, IAE), and proceeded to explain measurements made in the Madison Symmetric Torus which were previously unidentified.

Participants of 20th ISHW. © IPP, M. Borchardt

I would also like to mention the research of Dr. Josefine Proll in optimizing stellarators to trapped electron modes (TEMs), and that of Dr. Michael Rack exploring the effects of lower hybrid current drive in ELM suppression.

After hearing many exciting preliminary results from Wendelstein 7-X, including the successful measurements of flux surfaces, many workshop participants were looking forward to seeing the machine. On Wednesday of the workshop, we were given guided tours of IPP Greifswald, including a view of the device, control room, and power supplies. After many years of planning, production, and anticipation, the machine will begin operation in the coming weeks.