Engineers working on the Wendelstein 7-X. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Max Planck Institute
Scientists have confirmed that the experimental machine is operating with 'unprecedented accuracy'.
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.
Germany's Wendelstein 7-X (W 7-X) stellerator is one of several projects around the world aiming to make the dream of nuclear fusion energy a reality. Following initial operations back in February, the scientists behind the reactor have now reported that it has managed to exceed expectations.
Key to the success has been creating the super-strong three-dimensional magnetic fields necessary to keep balls of plasma in place long enough for a nuclear fusion reaction to occur.
Recent tests of the system have reported an impressive error rate that is less than one in 100,000.
"To our knowledge, this is an unprecedented accuracy, both in terms of the as-built engineering of a fusion device, as well as in the measurement of magnetic topology," the scientists wrote.
The achievement is certainly good news, but there is still a long way to go yet before nuclear fusion energy becomes a reality. Following six decades of research however, the fact remains that we are getting ever closer to achieving what would be one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs in history.
Source: Science Alert | Comments (28)
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