Category Archives: South Korea

KSTAR Project

National Fusion Research Institute

The next Generation Superconducting nuclear fusion research(KSTAR)

1. What is KSTAR (Korean Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research)?

KSTAR, a tokamak-typed nuclear fusion reactor, is being developed by the researchers and scientists of NFRI, Korea, and will be the cornerstone of constructing a Korean fusion power plant. It was December 1995 when the construction of KSTAR started, and was completed in August 2007. KSTAR will conduct a variety of experiments and tests which materialize the fusion energy development.

What is a Tokamak?

It is a nuclear fusion device for confining ultra high temperature plasma using the magnetic field, which is served as an environment where nuclear fusion like the one of the Sun takes place.

Construction and Operation Plan of KSTAR
KSTAR : Inauguration of Nuclear Fusion Energy Era
  • The International Joint R&D Hub of Nuclear Fusion Energy.
  • The Nursery of Professionals and Experts for Nuclear Fusion Research.
  • The Expansion of Domestic Industral Base for Nuclear Fusion Reactor Construction & Development.
  • The Development of Critical Technologies Necessary for Korean Fusion Power Plant Construction.

A preliminary conceptual design study of blanket for Korean DEMO Reactor (K-DEMO)

Published at IEEE Xplore

By Lee, Y.S. ; Fusion Eng. Center, Nat. Fusion Res. Inst., Daejeon, South Korea ; Baek, S. ; Im, K. ; Yeom, J.H.

A preliminary conceptual design study for Korean DEMO Reactor (K-DEMO) as an activity for Korean Fusion Energy Development Promotion Law (FEDPL) enacted in 2007 was started. A solid-type breeding blanket is the preliminary blanket concept in K-DEMO. As the candidates for the coolant of K-DEMO blanket, helium and water are under investigation through a comparative study of neutronics analysis. The preliminary concept design for inboard and outboard-side blankets for K-DEMO based on the present engineering feasibility has been carried out. The inboard and outboard-side blankets assume the form of several segmented blanket modules. In this work, the dimension for both inside and outboard-side blankets in the K-DEMO is essentially the same. A breeding blanket with a new cooling method, so-called a plate-type blanket, is proposed. In this concept, the plate-type blanket consists of separated individual rectangular parallelepiped cases for breeders and multipliers without a separate pipe system for cooling flow paths. This paper describes the current status of K-DEMO blanket conceptual design study.

Korea aims at completing a DEMO by 2037

iter newsline 04 Feb, 2013

Korea’s projected K-DEMO: a tokamak with a 6.65-metre major radius (as compared to ITER’s 6.21 metres), a peak TF field of ~16 Tesla, and a TF field at plasma centre of ~7.6 Tesla.

Harnessing fusion energy in the 21st century is a lot like going to the Moon in the 1970s. At that time, as each manned flight project unfolded, another one was already in the plans. One half-century ago, the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs were the space equivalent of the fusion projects JET, ITER and DEMO.

In space exploration, as in fusion research, planning for the next step when the present one has just gotten underway is a necessity. This was the case with JET, which began operating two years before the ITER project was officially launched (1983), and it is happening now with ITER, with planning for the next stage device underway even before fusion experiments have started in 2027.

Hundreds of physicists and engineers throughout the world are now planning for DEMO, the generic name for a pre-industrial demonstration power plant that will bring all technologies to the level of performance, reliability and efficiency required for the production of electricity.

As was demonstrated during the recent international workshop held at the University of California, Los Angeles, on 15-19 October 2012, the time is now ripe for developing these ideas.

Korea (Pop. 49 million), which relies on imports for more than 90 percent of its energy needs, is among the countries that have embarked on the development of a preliminary concept for DEMO. The main parametres of the Korean DEMO (“K-DEMO”) have already been defined and construction is expected to be completed in 2037.

Newsline sat with Kijung Jung, head of the Korean ITER Domestic Agency, to learn more.


Newsline: Many countries and groups are currently working on a concept definition for DEMO. Would you say that Korea has now taken a decisive step in DEMO’s direction?

Kijung Jung, head of the Korean ITER Domestic Agency, says that the actual R&D program for K-DEMO will be launched in 2014-2015 and that the pre-industrial demonstration power plant will be completed by 2037.

Kijung Jung, head of the Korean ITER Domestic Agency, says that the actual R&D program for K-DEMO will be launched in 2014-2015 and that the pre-industrial demonstration power plant will be completed by 2037.

Kijung Jung: I would say that the decisive step was taken more than five years ago, when the Fusion Energy Development Promotion Law (FEDPL) was enacted. Korea was the first country in the world to lay a legal foundation for fusion energy development. It is within this framework that our government launched DEMO R&D planning project at the end of 2012 and we are expecting results at the end of June 2013. A preliminary validity review process and a main project validity review process will take place at the end of that year. We hope the actual R&D program will be launched in 2014-2015.

The recent workshop at UCLA made one thing very clear: there are about as many different potential DEMOs as there are countries involved. Does Korea already have an idea of what K-DEMO could be like?

Three options are being considered at this stage—machines with a respective major radius of 6.0 m, 6.65 m and 7.15 m. But the tokamak with 6.65 m major radius has become the main target for detailed study. The peak toroidal field is ~16 Tesla and the toroidal field at plasma centre is ~7.6 Tesla.

How will Korea’s decision impact its participation in the ITER project?

It will not. Korea will of course remain a strong partner in the ITER project as it has been for the past ten years. Most of the engineering results from ITER project will be incorporated into our K-DEMO and Test Blanket Module activity will be accelerated as a part of DEMO breeding blanket R&D.

According to media reports K-DEMO could be completed in the 2030s. Considering that ITER will begin deuterium-tritium operations in 2027 and that results from the ITER experiments have always been defined as necessary to the design of a DEMO, how do you reconcile the two project schedules?

The target completion date for K-DEMO is set at the end of 2037. Because there may not be enough nuclear data by that time, K-DEMO will also be used as a component test facility during its first operational phase, which will extend from 2037 to approximately 2050. During the second operational phase, which is planned to start in 2050, most in-vessel components will be replaced for full steady-state operation and electricity generation.

How will K-DEMO approach the plasma-facing materials issue?

The main issues for K-DEMO development are the divertor and the blanket issues. We will try to resolve these to the extent possible in collaboration with ITER Members. However, the issues will be finally resolved during the second K-DEMO operation stage.

Can you provide an estimate of K-DEMO’s construction cost? How does it compare to the ~ EUR 13 billion ITER price tag?

At present, it is premature to estimate K-DEMOs cost.

South Korea makes billion-dollar bet on fusion power Jan. 21, 2013

Reactor to be built in 2030s represents a step towards commercial use.

The K-STAR nuclear fusion reactor, in Daejeon, South Korea, will be succeeded by a larger, more ambitious project.

South Korea has embarked on the development of a preliminary concept design for a fusion power demonstration reactor in collaboration with the US Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) in New Jersey.

The project is provisionally named K-DEMO (Korean Demonstration Fusion Power Plant), and its goal is to develop the design for a facility that could be completed in the 2030s in Daejeon, under the leadership of the country’s National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI).

South Korea is already developing the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (K-STAR) project and contributing to ITER, the €15-billion (US$20-billion) experimental reactor being built in Cadarache, France, under the auspices of an international collaboration. K-DEMO is intended to be the next step toward commercial reactors and would be the first plant to actually contribute power to an electric grid.

“It is a very smart strategy to take advantage of the experience gained in constructing ITER and to immediately proceed to construct a fusion power plant like K-DEMO,” says Stephen Dean, president of Fusion Power Associates, an advocacy group in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

K-DEMO will serve as prototype for the development of commercial fusion reactors. According to the PPPL, it will generate “some 1 billion watts of power for several weeks on end”, a much greater output than ITER’s goal of producing 500 million watts for 500 seconds by the late 2020s.

Building up know-how
In early 2012, the South Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology announced that developing technologies to build K-DEMO would be a priority for the next 10 years, establishing the know-how to permit the construction of a commercial fusion power plant between 2022 and 2036. The government also announced that it planned to invest about 1 trillion won (US$941 million) in the project. About 300 billion won of that spending has already been funded, according to a source within the ministry. The government expects the project to employ nearly 2,400 people in the first phase, which will last throughout 2016.

Robert Goldston, who was the director of the PPPL when it helped with the initial design of K-STAR, believes that the K-DEMO project is feasible, considering South Korea’s commitment to its previous project. “There was a financial crisis in Asia right in the middle of the K-STAR project, but the government and fusion scientists were steady and serious about getting the job done, despite lots of hardship,” he says. “My sense is that the Korean team, at all levels, is very dedicated to a steady pace even in adversity — and there is always adversity in big projects.”

Lee Gyung-Su, a research fellow at NFRI and a former chairman of the ITER Management Advisory Committee, says that Korea is desperately in need of the energy that fusion could provide. “Korea has a lack of energy resources,” he says. “The population density is high and the country consumes so much energy,” Lee adds, “we have a different perspective on fusion energy compared to the United States.”

ITER has experienced repeated delays and cost increases, prompting some critics to question whether the project will ever be completed. “It is already obvious that future commercial-size machines will be too large and costly, and too expensive to operate, to generate competitive energy,” says Thomas Cochran, a consultant for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington DC. He adds that he believes South Korea should spend its resources on technologies that have the potential to provide a nearer-term impact on carbon emissions and climate change.

Lee acknowledges the criticism, but says that most of ITER’s issues were of a management, rather than a technical nature. “The schedules are now mostly fixed and sorted out,” he says. “And risks always exist when it comes to a new finding in science, and the investment on the research and development has been made based on the estimation of such risks.”

Moreover, Lee adds, “we are willing to take risks, and need to innovate to survive”.

PPPL teams with South Korea on the forerunner of a commercial fusion power station

PPPL By John Greenwald December 21, 2012

(Photo by Courtesy of South Korea’s National Fusion Research Institute.)
Schematic sketch of the proposed K-DEMO fusion facility.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has joined forces with researchers in South Korea to develop a pre-conceptual design for a pioneering fusion facility in that Asian nation. The proposed device, called K-DEMO, could be completed in the mid-to-late 2030s as the final step before construction of a commercial fusion power plant that would produce clean and abundant energy for generating electricity.

The full K-DEMO project requires approval by the South Korean government. South Korea’s National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI) will fund PPPL’s initial collaboration, which will run for six months, beginning in January, and could be extended.

The cooperative agreement stands to enhance the development of fusion energy in both the United States and South Korea. PPPL will explore cutting-edge designs and technologies that could benefit the U.S. fusion program, and South Korea will gain access to the Laboratory’s deep experience in designing and engineering fusion facilities. These include the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX), PPPL’s leading fusion experiment, which is undergoing a major upgrade.

The K-DEMO collaboration will be “a mutual win for everyone,” said George “Hutch” Neilson, head of advanced projects at PPPL, who will oversee the Laboratory’s role in the cooperative design effort. Working with Neilson and NFRI, will be PPPL engineers Tom Brown, Charles Kessel and Peter Titus, together with fellow members of the Laboratory’s mechanical engineering division.

PPPL has a history of cooperating with South Korea on fusion projects. The Laboratory helped design that country’s major fusion facility, called KSTAR, in the 1990s and participates in experiments on the advanced machine. Both KSTAR and NSTX produce strong magnetic fields in circular devices called tokamaks to control the hot, electrically charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions.

The new collaborative agreement caps some six months of planning that included a pair of visits to PPPL by leaders of the South Korean fusion program. Plans call for the Laboratory to provide engineering analysis of K-DEMO design concepts, including the size and shape of the K-DEMO tokamak and the strength of the magnetic fields that will create and control the plasma. “We all share the same vision to deliver a possible DEMO design,” said Dr. Gyung-Su Lee, a research fellow at NFRI. “We will share our expertise so that the outcome will benefit not just K-DEMO, but a next-step U.S. fusion facility as well.”

K-DEMO is expected to come online several years after ITER, a seven-story tokamak that the European Union, the United States, South Korea and four other nations are building in Cadarache, France. ITER is to produce 500 million watts of fusion power for 500 seconds by the late 2020s to showcase the feasibility of fusion energy. K-DEMO, by contrast, is to produce some 1 billion watts of power for several weeks on end. “K-DEMO should be just a small step away from a commercial plant in technology and performance,” said Neilson.

K-DEMO will be a two-stage project. The first stage, called K-DEMO 1, will develop components for the second stage, K-DEMO 2, to use to produce fusion energy and generate electricity. Construction of a commercial fusion generating station would follow completion of the overall K-DEMO project.

K-DEMO could thus set the pace for global efforts to achieve commercial fusion energy. Countries including China, Japan and India are contemplating their own demonstration facilities as gateways to commercial fusion power stations that could operate by mid-century.