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Science & Technology

MIT's fusion reactor sets new world record

By T.K. Randall
October 18, 2016 · Comment icon 15 comments



The reactor had been running for 23 years. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Bobmumgaard / MIT
A world powered by practically limitless, clean energy is now one step closer to becoming a reality.
Often seen as the Holy Grail of power generation, nuclear fusion is the same process that produces energy in the sun and works by fusing hydrogen nuclei together to create helium.

Unlike nuclear fission which comes with the inherent risk of a meltdown, fusion is much cleaner and safer while the hydrogen fuel used by the process is so abundant that it is practically limitless.

Now scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have made another significant step forward on the road to achieving sustainable fusion energy by raising the pressure of the burning plasma within the Alcator C-Mod tokamak nuclear fusion reactor to 2.05 atmospheres - that's 15 percent higher than anything ever achieved before during similar experiments.
Raising the pressure and temperature is key to producing a sustainable nuclear fusion power plant as only by getting these high enough can the reactor produce more energy than it uses up.

"This is a remarkable achievement," said Dale Meade, former deputy director at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. "The record plasma pressure validates the high-magnetic-field approach as an attractive path to practical fusion energy."

The breakthrough came on the final day of operation for the reactor which had been running for 23 years. The record it achieved will likely stand until construction of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is completed in France which may not be until 2032 at the earliest.

Source: Tech Radar | Comments (15)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #6 Posted by quiXilver 6 years ago
and delivery... our current system is... lacking in efficiency to say the least.
Comment icon #7 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
From the linked article: "The achievement at MIT came on the final day of operation of the Alcator C-Mod tokamak. It's been in operation for 23 years, repeatedly pushing the envelope on what's possible, but budgetary pressures have forced the US to end its funding in favor of newer facilities.  Still, its record is likely to stand for some time - at least until 2032, when the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (better known as ITER) is due to open in the south of France." Hilary should jump on finding funding for this project instead of trying to build solar panel and wind farms ... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by DieChecker 6 years ago
Combine endless energy with an EmDrive and what do you get? Humans on every planet in the galaxy in 1000 years.
Comment icon #9 Posted by MisterMan 6 years ago
Light can't cross the galaxy in 1000 years, let alone humans.  Just sayin'
Comment icon #10 Posted by bmk1245 6 years ago
Depends... Thats where relativity comes into play. Lets say you accelerate (and start to decelerate halfway) at 1 g (assuming EmDrive works (big question, so far), and can achieve that acceleration), then you will travel to Andromeda galaxy (2.5 million light-years) in less than 29 years. At 0.5 g you'll be there in 55 years, and so on.
Comment icon #11 Posted by bmk1245 6 years ago
deleted
Comment icon #12 Posted by DieChecker 6 years ago
True. Since the Galaxy is roughly 100,000 light years across....  "Duh" on me.... Should have picked a bigger number.... Million years maybe.
Comment icon #13 Posted by MisterMan 6 years ago
I'm aware of relativity.    I assumed the 1,000 year comment meant 1,000 years on earth, and not for each of the travelers that was going to populate every planet in the galaxy.  I think he confirmed that with his response.
Comment icon #14 Posted by bmk1245 6 years ago
Fair enough.
Comment icon #15 Posted by ChaosRose 6 years ago
The record it achieved will likely stand until construction of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is completed in France which may not be until 2032 at the earliest. Looks like it was funded in 2006, but it went over budget several times and didn't meet deadlines. It also looks like the US considered withdrawing support because of the delays, but we're still in. I think you have to realize that they're trying to do something that has never been done before.  1985. At the Geneva summit meeting in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev suggested to Ronald Reagan that the two countries ... [More]


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