Tech UPTechnologyThis super magnet can make nuclear fusion come true

This super magnet can make nuclear fusion come true

New milestone in physics. A team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has managed to go one step further to make nuclear fusion a reality and to create a fusion power plant that produces more energy than it consumes.

The test with the powerful low-power magnet, conducted at the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Sunday at 6 am, was a success and constitutes a key milestone in the development of commercially viable nuclear fusion. according to a report from MIT.


It is the strongest high temperature superconducting magnet in the world

Fusion occurs when two or more atomic nuclei fuse to create larger elements, releasing massive amounts of energy along the way; it is what powers stars like our own Sun. However, getting it to work on Earth, in a system that does not consume more energy than it produces, has not been possible until now.

During testing of startup Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) backed by Bill Gates and MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC), the magnet reached 20 Tesla, a unit of measurement named after pioneering engineer Nikola Tesla, and that is used to denote the strength of a magnet . The test is significant because it produced a strong magnetic field required for the fusion process, while consuming only 30 watts of power (previously tests involving 200 million several had been done).

The new magnet produced a 20 Tesla field for about 5 hours , although the researchers say they could have sustained the field indefinitely.



20 Tesla = enough for nuclear fusion

The goal is to build, with these magnets that make use of a superconducting material called ReBCO, the first fusion machine (tokamak) that is expected to generate more energy than it uses to start and function. In a circular nuclear fusion reactor, powerful magnets, such as the one developed by MIT and CFS, control and stabilize the fiery plasma necessary for the reaction to occur when deuterium and tritium fuse into helium.


What if we were able to achieve and commercialize the merger?

If we could get to this point, something that seems to be getting closer and closer would provide an almost limitless source of clean energy without producing the waste from nuclear fission, which can remain radioactive for thousands of years. No company has ever achieved net energy fusion, a requirement to harness the virtually limitless clean energy of nuclear fusion.

“I am now genuinely optimistic that SPARC can achieve positive net energy, based on the demonstrated performance of magnets. The next step is to scale up, build a current power plant,” explains Maria Zuber, MIT vice president for research. For now, everything is going according to plan and the first operational fusion power plant, called ARC, would go online in the early 2030s.

“This was designed to be commercial,” Zuber clarified. “It was not designed to be a scientific experiment.”

The development of the new magnet is considered the biggest technological obstacle to achieving an inexhaustible and carbon-free energy source, as it is a key requirement to reduce the power consumption of the generator itself and achieve net energy production. Mission accomplished.


Reference: MIT doi: 10.1126 / science.acx9064

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