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Cablegate: Korea Unveils Advanced Tokamak Fusion Test Device Built

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUL #3033/01 2800550
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 070550Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY SEOUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6871
INFO RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC 1712
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 3221
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1562
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 3361
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0617
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 8296
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHUNV/UNVIE VIENNA

UNCLAS SEOUL 003033

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR STAS, OES/SAT, OES/STC, AND ISN/NESS
DEPT ALSO FOR EAP/K
WHITE HOUSE FOR OSTP
USDOC FOR 4440/IEP/EAP/OPB/WGOLIKE
USDOC ALSO FOR ITA/TA
USDOC ALSO NIST FOR SCARPENTER
USDOE FOR INTERNATIONAL - R. PRICE
USDOE ALSO FOR OFFICE OF SCIENCE - E. OKTAY
DEPT PASS TO NRC FOR INTL PROGRAMS
USMISSION VIENNA FOR IAEA DEL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TRGY ENRG KSCA KNNP KS
SUBJECT: KOREA UNVEILS ADVANCED TOKAMAK FUSION TEST DEVICE BUILT
WITH U.S. COLLABORATION


SUMMARY
-------

1. On September 14, President Roh unveiled Korea's cutting-edge
nuclear fusion plasma chamber, the Korea Superconducting Tokamak
Advanced Research (KSTAR) device, at the National Fusion Research
Center outside Daejeon. Built at a cost of some USD 329 million,
KSTAR is one of the world's most advanced Tokamaks, using
superconducting coils and advanced techniques to heat and shape
plasma. KSTAR was built using domestic technology, with technical
assistance from a number of fusion research labs in the United
States and other countries. Following testing of its subsystems,
KSTAR is expected to produce its first plasma by June 2008, and to
achieve full-scale operations several years later. KSTAR will play
an important role in international fusion research, both before and
after the start-up of the larger-scale International Thermonuclear
Experimental Reactor (ITER) in Cadarache, France, in 2016. Comment:
KSTAR demonstrates both how far Korean science has progressed and
the extent to which U.S.-Korean scientific collaboration continues
to play a role in that progress. End summary.

KSTAR - CENTERPIECE OF KOREAN FUSION RESEARCH
---------------------------------------------

2. The KSTAR Tokamak is the centerpiece of Korea's fusion research
program. (Tokamak is a Russian acronym for Toroidal -- or
doughnut-shaped -- Chamber in Magnetic Coils. It is a device using
powerful magnets to confine a plasma -- ionized gases -- to permit
controlled fusion reactions.) The Korean government has spent USD
329 million since 1995 to construct KSTAR and related devices at the
NFRC, located in Daedeok Innopolis, outside of Daejeon (150
kilometers south of Seoul). A ceremony was held on September 14 to
mark the completion of construction.

3. Lee Gyeong-su, Director of Fusion Research at Korea's National
Fusion Research Center (NFRC), told ESTH that NFRC is still testing
individual KSTAR systems, and that full-scale operation is planned
to begin by June, 2008. Once KSTAR is operational, Korea plans to
spend some USD 37 million annually over eighteen years on fusion
research. The goal is to maintain dense, superheated plasmas for
periods of at least 300 seconds, in order to gather information on
heating, diagnostic and controlling techniques. This information
will feed into the multinational ITER project, in which Korea is a
founding partner.

4. Looking further into the future, Korea's "road map" for fusion
energy development aims to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion
power generation by 2030; complete the engineering design of a
fusion reactor by 2035; and begin commercial production of
electricity using fusion by 2040.

5. As testament to the importance that the Korean government gives
to the prospect of fusion energy, President Roh Moo-hyun attended
the September 14 event, and spoke not once but three times. He
lauded the scientists and domestic industries responsible for
bringing the project to completion, and expressed his hope that
KSTAR would play a crucial role in allowing Korea to achieve energy
self-reliance. (Comment: With an election coming up, Roh also used
the occasion to announce that he would seek legislative approval to
bring scientists from NFRC and other state-run research institutes
into the government pension scheme, a proposal that provoked smiles
of approval among those assembled. End comment.)

COMPARING KSTAR TO EXISTING TOKAMAKS
------------------------------------

6. NFRC says that KSTAR is the world's first Tokamak to use
highly-efficient niobium-three-tin (Nb3Sn) coils to generate
magnetic fields. The principal parameters of the KSTAR Tokamak are:
major radius 1.8 meters, minor radius 0.5 meters, toroidal field 3.5
Telsa, plasma current 2.0 MA, plasma temperature range 100-300

million degrees Celsius, and magnet weight 270 tons.

7. George McKee, a University of Wisconsin fusion scientist who
provided technical assistance for KSTAR and who attended the
September 14 ceremony, provided ESTH with his assessment of how
KSTAR compares to existing Tokamaks:

"KSTAR is a medium-sized Tokamak experiment. Currently, there are
two larger experiments in the world (JT-60U in Japan and JET in
Europe), and two comparably-sized experiments (DIII-D in the United
States, and ASDEX-U in Germany). But KSTAR will be unique in that
it employs fully superconducting magnets and implements the latest
ideas and designs for obtaining the highest performing plasmas
(so-called "Advanced Tokamak" plasmas). The EAST Tokamak that has
just begun operations in Hefei, China, has roughly similar
parameters to KSTAR and is also superconducting. However, KSTAR
employs advanced plasma heating, shaping and current-drive
capabilities, is somewhat larger, and has advanced control systems
and a diagnostics suite. The two experiments should complement each
other quite well."

PREPARING THE WAY FOR ITER -- AND BEYOND
----------------------------------------

8. McKee went on to opine that "KSTAR is poised to be the most
fruitful experiment in the world in several years to further advance
both the performance of fusion plasmas and our scientific
understanding of basic fusion plasma processes....The KSTAR
experiment will be a crucial experiment for investigating the
physics of 'long-pulse, high performance' fusion plasmas. One of
the major uncertainties in fusion looking forward to ITER and beyond
is how the high-temperature plasma and the Tokamak vessel interact
over long time periods (tens of seconds to minutes) while sustaining
high-temperature, high-pressure plasmas." Experience shows that
high performance can be maintained for relatively short periods --
several seconds -- but sustaining for longer pulses requires complex
feedback control of plasma instabilities and the avoidance of
deleterious plasma-wall interactions.

9. McKee concluded that "KSTAR will seek to maintain high
"normalized" performance that should provide very useful scientific
information and techniques for developing high performance plasmas
for ITER as well as for extrapolating beyond ITER to fusion
reactors. Thus it will continue to be a very relevant and
pioneering experiment even during the operation of ITER."

U.S. SCIENTISTS DEEPLY INVOLVED
-------------------------------

10. The U.S. Department Energy and numerous U.S. research
institutions have been deeply involved in the design and
construction of KSTAR. With two major fusion centers in the U.S.
(Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in New Jersey and General
Atomic Company in San Diego) taking the lead, this collaboration has
included scientists from the University of Wisconsin, the University
of California at Davis, Columbia University, and Oak Ridge National
Laboratory, among others. Dr. McKee provided details:

"The U.S. and Korea are engaged in numerous active collaborations
centered around the KSTAR experiment in the areas of plasma control,
radio-frequency and microwave-based heating systems, plasma
stability, and imaging and profile diagnostics. The U.S. Department
of Energy is providing funding for numerous design studies and
control system development for the KSTAR experiment. These
collaborations take place with U.S. National Laboratories,
companies, and universities...."

11. To further emphasize the long-term nature of the U.S.-Korea
collaboration, Dr. McKee remarked that the KSTAR experiment design
is based in part on a Tokamak design (Tokamak Physics Experiment, or
TPX) that was developed in the U.S., with the leadership of

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. A DOE official later commented
to ESTH that the TPX design was not built in the United States due
to a lack of funding, so it was gratifying to see that the design
proved so useful in the construction of KSTAR.

COMMENT
-------

12. Several speakers at the September 14 ceremony, including ITER
Secretary General-designate Kaname Ikeda, described KSTAR as

SIPDIS
allowing Korea to assume a leading role in international fusion
research. Hopes are high that KSTAR will contribute to hastening
the day when electricity generation using fusion is shown to be both
feasible and cost-effective. Meanwhile, KSTAR's completion
testifies both to the advances of Korean science over the past four
decades, and to the continuing vigor and fruitfulness of U.S.-Korean
scientific collaboration.

VERSHBOW

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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