Faster path to fusion energy revealed

fusion energy
Tokamak fusion reactor

According to a study in the American Physical Society, scientists are creating a faster path to fusion energy in an effort to deliver power to the grid and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Science Daily reports the arrival of a breakthrough new technology – high temperature super conductors – which can be used to build magnets that produce stronger magnetic fields than previously thought possible could help them achieve this goal.

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Plasma Science & Fusion Center and Commonwealth Fusion Systems plan to use the technology to build magnets at the scale required for fusion.

Fusion power is generated when nuclei of small atoms combine into larger ones in a process that releases enormous amounts of energy. But, these atoms are positively charged and repel from each other, so in order to overcome this they need to be heated to hundreds of millions of degrees.

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Because the conditions for net energy gain have not been achieved, the scientists are suggesting a potential solution, which is increasing the strength of the magnets. Fusion researchers have been trying to demonstrate net energy gain for more than 60 years.

A breakthrough superconductor could see fusion power plants come to fruition.

Leading global fusion research agency ITER based in Southern France announced earlier this year that it achieved two important milestones in the development of the tokamak fusion reactor: ompletion of ground insulation for the first of seven central solenoid production modules in the US and that the first toroidal field coil passed all fitting tests in Japan.

The tokamak is an experimental machine designed to harness the energy of fusion. Inside a tokamak, the energy produced through the fusion of atoms is absorbed as heat in the walls of the vessel. The reactor is now 50 per cent complete.

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