The Australian Plasma Fusion Research Facility (APFRF, formerly the
National Plasma Fusion Research Facility) is a uniquely versatile
plasma research facility, located in the Research School of Physics
and Engineering within the Australian National University (ANU) in
Canberra. The H-1 heliac is the Australian focus of basic experimental research
on magnetically confined plasma, important in developing fusion
energy, a clean, virtually inexhaustible energy source that powers the
sun and stars. H-1 is capable of accessing a wide range of plasma
configurations or shapes, and utilising the associated
state-of-the-art power and measurement systems that allow fundamental
studies of plasma, the fourth state of matter.
In 2009, under the Australian Government's Super
Science Initiative, $7 million was allocated
to upgrade the Facility.
Plasma – ionised gas – makes up 99% of the visible universe, and plasma phenomena are important in everything from stars and space exploration to the processing of electronic materials.
Plasma physics is thus a highly interdisciplinary endeavour because of the range of physics areas it encompasses (fluid, atomic, electromagnetic, optical and surface physics) and the diverse technologies employed in plasma experiments (electronics, radio-frequency technologies, magnetics, lasers, microwaves and spectroscopy).
The facility was developed from the ‘H-1 Heliac’
toroidal stellarator experiment in the Research School of Physics
and Engineering at the Australian National University. The
innovative plasma geometry and unique flexibility of the heliac allows investigation of basic plasma physics, and exploration of ideas for improved design of the fusion power stations that will follow the ITER international fusion experiment.
The objectives of this facility are to provide: