Professor in Fusion plasma physics
The goal of fusion research is to develop a new type of nuclear reactor in which energy is released by fusing atoms rather than splitting them. This would allow us to use normal sea water as fuel instead of uranium. The fuel exists in the form of a gaseous plasma at several million degrees. In a fusion reactor, a magnetic field is used to contain the hot plasma.
One problem that can arise is that the plasma is cooled by instabilities. Per Brunsell's research involves understanding plasma instabilities – how they arise and how they can be counteracted. So far, the most important result of this research is a method for stabilising the plasma using actively controlled magnetic coils.
A large fusion research facility (ITER) is under construction in France. It is an international collaboration project in which Sweden and KTH are involved. ITER will be the first research facility at which a positive energy exchange can be achieved. The generated fusion power will be between 5 and 10 times greater than the power input required to heat the plasma.
Fusion energy will be of great use to society in the long-term, in about 40–50 years. By then, fusion will then be a safe, green and, above all, sustainable source of energy which can add significantly to the world's energy supply.