July 21, 2024

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This new record in the field of nuclear fusion is a promising step forward

This new record in the field of nuclear fusion is a promising step forward

Engineers were able to create a nuclear fusion reaction in a reactor covered in tungsten, instead of the usual graphite. This was the most active reaction in such a reactor to date.

The reaction was generated in a steady-state tokamak environment (WEST), an experimental reactor in France. The plasma temperature reached about 50 million degrees Celsius. The response lasted more than six minutes. Results It has been confirmed By the US Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

Although longer and hotter reactions have previously been generated in fusion reactors, this is a record for a reactor covered on the inside with tungsten. Tungsten is a suitable material because, among other things, it has a very high melting point. The plasma was 15 percent more active than in the past and twice as dense. A total of 1.15 GJ was pumped into the reactor to maintain the reaction.

Still far away

One caveat is that no more energy is produced than is put into the reactor to maintain the reaction. What is important is that the tungsten reactor appears to be able to contain a more compact and energetic plasma than conventional designs.

If nuclear fusion is to be commercialized, ways must be found to make the plasma as compact and energetic as possible. Only then can the temperature and pressure in the reactor be high enough to achieve net energy gains over long periods. Other experimental reactors using tungsten instead of graphite are also emerging similarly Show better results.

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The largest reactor

It may take decades before nuclear fusion becomes commercially available. The experiments being conducted today help scientists reach this goal. In the near future, the largest experimental reactor to date, ITER, will be opened in southern France. Tungsten is also used in this reactor.

ITER is expected to pave the way for commercial nuclear fusion by demonstrating the potential for large-scale net energy extraction.

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