Scientists to inject fuel in experimental fusion device

Feb 3, 2016

Scientists in northeast Germany were poised to flip the switch Wednesday on an experiment they hope will advance the quest for nuclear fusion, considered a clean and safe form of nuclear power.”

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Greifswald planned to inject a tiny amount of hydrogen and heat it until it becomes a super-hot gas known as plasma, mimicking conditions inside the sun. It’s part of a world-wide effort to harness nuclear fusion, a process in which atoms join at extremely high temperatures and release large amounts of energy.

Advocates acknowledge that the technology is probably many decades away, but argue that — once achieved — it could replace fossil fuels and conventional nuclear fission reactors.

Construction has already begun in southern France on ITER, a huge international research reactor that uses a strong electric current to trap plasma inside a doughnut-shaped device long enough for fusion to take place. The device, known as a tokamak, was conceived by Soviet physicists in the 1950s and is considered fairly easy to build, but extremely difficult to operate.

The team in Greifswald, a port city on Germany’s Baltic coast, is focused on a rival technology invented by the American physicist Lyman Spitzer in 1950. Called a stellarator, the device has the same doughnut shape as a tokamak but uses a complicated system of magnetic coils to achieve the same result.

The Greifswald device should be able to keep plasma in place for much longer than a tokamak, said Thomas Klinger, who heads the project.

“The stellarator is much calmer,” he said in a telephone interview. “It’s far harder to build, but easier to operate.”

Known as the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator, or W7-X, the 400-million-euro ($435-million) device was first fired up in December using helium, which is easier to heat. Helium also has the advantage of “cleaning” any minute dirt particles left behind during the construction of the device.

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3 comments on “Scientists to inject fuel in experimental fusion device

  • If to speak about nuclear synthesis, it is necessary to consider process of control of products of nuclear synthesis. The condition of an electromagnetic field doesn’t define development of the content of plasma. This external influence directed on increase in a charge of Hydrogen. In that case, the idea has no continuation.
    I can offer opposite option of nuclear synthesis in a condition of expansion of Hydrogen due to crushing of a charge. It is technology of “cold” nuclear synthesis. This cycle defines synthesis in Gely’s structure by group of easy mirror kernels.
    In this case, the content of plasma happens due to cyclic gradation of phase layers.



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  • Advocates acknowledge that the technology is probably many decades away, but argue that — once achieved — it could replace fossil fuels and conventional nuclear fission reactors.

    It will be too late by then. Transfer the money to renewables that will work…. TODAY.



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    NearlyNakedApe says:

    It will be too late by then. Transfer the money to renewables that will work…. TODAY.

    I mostly agree. Since the problems caused by climate change are cumulative and ever-increasing, we need to concentrate our efforts on what we can do about it now. However, I am against cutting spending on nuclear fusion research.

    The idea that funding this research takes away serious money from the application of renewables is about as valid as the popular notion that funding the space program takes away money from education and health care. It doesn’t. The money spent on those is peanuts compared to the money wasted by governments on things like the military and endless wars, subsidies and tax breaks to oil and coal companies, not to mention bailing out the infamous wolfes of Wall Street.

    THAT is where we need to cut spending, not on scientific research.



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