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"Bernhard Seiwald: Research"

Why fusion energy?

Energy, more precisely cheap energy, is one of the driving mechanisms for modern civilizations with high technological capabilities. It can be seen from the statistics, provided by the International Energy Agency (IEA), that both the total worldwide primary energy supply, excluding the electricity trade (see Fig. 1), as well as the worldwide electricity generation (see Fig. 2) increased almost linearly from 1971 to 2005 (see [1]). From both statistics can be seen that the vast majority of the used resources are still fossil resources. The predicted increase of the world energy consumption, according to three different scenarios, is shown in Fig. 3 (see, e.g. [2]).

World Total Primary Energy Supply 1971-2005
Fig. 1: Evolution of the total worldwide primary energy supply (in Mega tons oil equivalent Mtoe) excluding the electricity trade. (Source: International Energy Agency (IEA))

Evolution Electricity Generagion 1971-2005
Fig. 2: Evolution of the worldwide electricity generation. (Source: International Energy Agency (IEA))

World Energy Consumption}
Fig. 3: Evolution of the world energy consumption (in Giga tons oil equivalent Gtoe) according to three different scenarios, as documented in [3]. The inset shows the projected evolution of the world population [4]. The bands reflect the uncertainties in the predictions. The middle course scenario B is considered as the most realistic one. Figure taken from [2].

Until now, energy is produced mainly from fossil resources. There are several disadvantages caused by burning fossil resources like the exhaust of the greenhouse gas CO $ _{\mbox{{\small 2}}}$. The resources are limited and it will be more and more expensive to use them. Heavily usage of fossil resources causes also a strong dependence on countries providing these resources. Furthermore, fossil resources can be used much better than just to be burned - they are invaluable for chemical and pharmaceutical industry. One alternative is to use renewable energy, but the energy density is often low, may depend on weather (e.g. for wind mills) or need farming land (e.g. for producing bio-oil from rape-seed). Renewable energy resources are necessary and ecologically useful. Nevertheless, one should think over to develope other advanced methods to provide energy in addition to renewable energies. One of these possible methods is to use the same process as the sun uses for energy production - fusion. The Plasma Physics Division at the Institute of Theoretical and Computational Physics of the TU Graz is working within the worldwide fusion community. The aim of the work of the international fusion community is to provide the knowledge for building a fusion power plant in future.


Key World Energy Statistics 2007, 2007.

J. Ongena and G. Van Oost.
Energy for Future Centuries - Prospects for Fusion Power as a Future Energy Source.
In Seventh Carolus Magnus Summer School on Plasma Physics, September 5 - 16, 2005, Mechelon, The Netherlands, volume 49 of Transactions of Fusion Science and Technology, pages 3-15. American Nuclear Society, 2006.

A. Grübler and A. McDonald.
Global Energy Perspectives.
IIASA and World Energy Council, Cambridge University Press, 1998.

United Nations.
World Population Prospects: the 1994 Revision.
United Nations Population Division, New York, 1995.

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