Deep Learning and Fusion Power

Creating unlimited energy imitating the sun is one of the endeavors scientists have dreamed about, studied and worked on unceasingly in the past century. This is nuclear fusion which is projected to lead to electricity production however implies huge obstacles to control the energy released in the atomic, particle reactions.

An immense obstacle to control the nuclear fusion reaction consists of managing the spikes of violent forces which occasionally make the plasma in the tank become unstable, pushing to escape out of the tank with incredible power. These disruptions if correctly predicted could harness their impact by cooling down the plasma and exponentially diminishing the devastating effects on the nuclear fusion reactor.

The scientists at Harvard and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) use the AI deep learning to generate algorithms which predict the violent escape forces in the reactor.

The data involved in the plasma reactions are complex and require generalizations which classical algorithms cannot handle. Only at the generalization level, the violent escapes of energy can be maneuvered since in the past the nuclear fusion reactors experienced serious damages which stopped further experiments and the creation of fusion reactions.

The energy contained in disruptions can be so powerful that a tank weighing tons of steels “can jump a centimeter up in the air” as the scientist from PPPL, Kates-Harbeck explains. The bigger the nuclear fusion machine, the more powerful the disruptions and the AI deep-learning represents the adequate tool to deal with high-dimensional data. In a nuclear fusion reactor, the high-dimensional deep- learning data could be the relation between temperature values across time and space, and not one temperature value corresponding to one moment in time as in the classic computational models.

In the experiment and using a trained AI, the researchers aim to predict patterns of recurrent disruptions which would allow to manage and ultimately minimize them in order to generate energy efficiently by also dramatically reducing the damages. The final objective of the fusion experiments consists of the energy production resulted from the fusion of heavy hydrogen nuclei which outrun the costs of generating it thus becoming efficient for general use. More information at the path to fusion power.


Cory Popescu