The open questions that are being heatedly debated in this field include the phenomenon of “edge localized modes” – energetic outbursts at the plasma edge. These can damage the wall of the plasma vessel but are also capable of expelling undesirable impurities from the plasma. Hence, what is needed are custom-made (i.e., sufficiently weak) instabilities. For this purpose special control coils were installed on the wall of the plasma vessel in the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device in Garching. Now, after a one-year installation period, the coils have enabled scientists to adjust the plasma instabilities to the required level. This has brought them much closer to answering the question of how the energy generated in the ITER plasma can be smoothly extracted.
Is Fusion the Energy of the Future?