Nav: Home

Peak performance: new stellarator experiments show promising results

November 05, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore.--Imagine building a machine so advanced and precise you need a supercomputer to help design it. That's exactly what scientists and engineers in Germany did when building the Wendelstein 7-X experiment. The device, funded by the German federal and state governments and the European Union, is a type of fusion device called a stellarator. The new experiment's goal is to contain a super-heated gas, called plasma, in a donut-shaped vessel using magnets that twist their way around the donut.

The team completed construction of Wendelstein 7-X, the world's most advanced superconducting stellarator, in 2015 and, since then, scientists have been busy studying its performance (Figure 1).

"The advantage of stellarators over other types of fusion machines is that the plasmas produced are extremely stable and very high densities are possible", said Dr. Novimir Pablant, a U.S. physicist from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, who works alongside a multinational team of scientists and engineers from Europe, Australia, Japan, and the United States (the U.S. collaboration is funded by the Department of Energy).

Using a tool called an X-ray spectrometer, Pablant studied the light given off by the plasma to answer an important question: Did the design of Wendelstein 7-X's twisted magnetic field work? His results indicate that, indeed, the plasma temperatures and electric fields are already in the range required for peak performance (Figure 2). He will present his work at the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics conference in Portland, Ore.

If the scientists working on Wendelstein 7-X are successful in optimizing the machine performance, the plasma contained in the donut will become even hotter than the sun. Atoms making up the plasma will fuse together, yielding safe, clean energy to be used for power. This achievement is a major milestone as it shows that it is possible to achieve temperatures of more than 10 million degrees in high-density plasmas using only microwaves to heat the electrons in the plasma. This achievement takes us one step closer to making fusion power a reality.
-end-
For additional information see also: [1] http://www.ipp.mpg.de/4413312/04_18

American Physical Society

Related Plasma Articles:

Plasma-driven biocatalysis
Compared with traditional chemical methods, enzyme catalysis has numerous advantages.
How bacteria protect themselves from plasma treatment
Considering the ever-growing percentage of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, interest in medical use of plasma is increasing.
A breakthrough in the study of laser/plasma interactions
Researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and CEA Saclay have developed a particle-in-cell simulation tool that is enabling cutting-edge simulations of laser/plasma coupling mechanisms.
Researchers turn liquid metal into a plasma
For the first time, researchers at the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) have found a way to turn a liquid metal into a plasma and to observe the temperature where a liquid under high-density conditions crosses over to a plasma state.
How black holes power plasma jets
Cosmic robbery powers the jets streaming from a black hole, new simulations reveal.
Give it the plasma treatment: strong adhesion without adhesives
A Japanese research team at Osaka University used plasma treatment to make fluoropolymers and silicone resin adhere without any adhesives.
Chemotherapeutic drugs and plasma proteins: Exploring new dimensions
This review provides a bird's eye view of interaction of a number of clinically important drugs currently in use that show covalent or non-covalent interaction with serum proteins.
The coming of age of plasma physics
The story of the generation of physicists involved in the development of a sustainable energy source, controlled fusion, using a method called magnetic confinement.
Intense microwave pulse ionizes its own channel through plasma
More than 30 years ago, researchers theoretically predicted the ionization-induced channeling of an intense microwave beam propagating through a neutral gas (>103 Pa) -- and now it's finally been observed experimentally.
Plasma thruster: New space debris removal technology
A Japanese and Australian research group has discovered new technology to remove space debris using a single propulsion system in a helicon plasma thruster.
More Plasma News and Plasma Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.