Alcator C-Mod - History - Unfunded Ideas and The C-Mod Proposal

Unfunded Ideas and The C-Mod Proposal

There were several ideas for new devices and upgrades at the PSFC that were never funded. From 1978–1980, a design activity was carried out for Alcator D, a larger version of Alcator C that would allow for more heating power, and possibly even deuterium–tritium (D–T) operation. This design was never formally proposed to the Department of Energy (DOE), but continued to evolve under the direction of Bruno Coppi, eventually becoming the Italian–Russian IGNITOR device currently planned for construction at TRINITY near Troitsk, Russia.

In 1982, an even more ambitious device called Alcator DCT was conceived. This machine would have superconducting coils producing 7 T on axis. 4 MW of lower hybrid current drive would drive a steady-state plasma with 1.4 MA plasma current. As this design was similar to the French Tore Supra, a joint French–American workshop was held in Cadarache in 1983 to compare the two designs and exchange ideas. Alcator DCT was formally proposed to the DOE in late 1983, but was not funded.

At this time, the budget for magnetic fusion energy research in the United States had been increasing year-over-year, reaching a peak of $468.4-million in fiscal 1984. That year, the PSFC was notified that for a time, budgets would be falling, and DOE policy would be to only fund upgrades to existing devices, not new machines. Thus, design work was begun on a copper-coil machine which would re-use some of the power supplies from Alcator C, allowing the team to pitch it as a "modification" to Alcator C. The conceptual design was completed and Alcator C-Mod was formally proposed to DOE in late 1985. The project was approved and construction was authorized in 1986.

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