German Fusion Reactor Creates Hydrogen Plasma For First Time
By newuniversedaily on February 3, 2016
Today at 9:35 am, the $1.1 billion dollar Wendelstein 7-X stellarator managed to sustain a suspended-superheated hydrogen plasma for the first time.
The achievement is a key step toward creating workable nuclear fusion (the process that powers the Sun), which could ultimately provide clean, limitless energy.
The revolutionary experiment was conducted at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, and adding to the publicity, the reactor was fired up by German chancellor Angela Merkel, who herself has a doctorate in physics. This was the second time the reactor was successfully turned on.
In December of 2015, scientists managed to sustain a helium plasma for the first time in history using the reactor. That experiment proved that the stellarator worked and researchers quickly shifted focus to creating hydrogen plasma. Generating a hydrogen plasma is considerably more difficult than producing a helium one, so by producing and sustaining one, even for just a few-milliseconds, these scientists have achieved something truly incredible.
The fusion reactor, known as a stellarator and dubbed the Wendelstein 7-X, is a one-of-a-kind revolutionary device. In order for the machine to sustain plasma, it houses 425 tonnes of superconducting, supercooled magnets to keep the plasma suspended in place.
To generate the fusion process, the machine heats atoms to around 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million degrees Fahrenheit). At these temperatures hydrogen atoms become energetically excited, and along with the aid of an effect called “quantum tunneling,” they begin to collide and fuse, releasing energy and forming heavier elements.
The reactor is not designed to produce energy, but rather to be used as an experiment to re-create the conditions deep inside the Sun.
Ultimately, creating a sustained, superheated hydrogen plasma will open the door for commercially viable options some time down the road.
John Jelonnek, team member at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology said, “We’re not doing this for us, but for our children and grandchildren.”http://newuniversedaily.com/2016/02/03/german-fusion-reactor-creates-hydrogen-plasma-for-first-time/?utm_content=buffer0b204&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer