A critical hurdle facing fusion devices called stellarators—twisty facilities that seek to provide on Earth the fusion reactions that power the solar and stars—has been their limited ability to keep up the heat and efficiency of the plasma that fuels these reactions.
Now collaborative analysis by scientists at the U.S. Division of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Greifswald, Germany, have discovered that the Wendelstein 7-X facility in Greifswald, the largest and most superior stellarator ever constructed, has proved a vital step in overcoming this downside.
The high-end facility, constructed and housed at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics with PPPL as the main U.S. collaborator, is meant to improve the efficiency and stability of the plasma—the hot, charged state of matter included free electrons and atomic nuclei that makes up 99% of the visible universe.
Fusion reactions fuse ions to release large amounts of energy—the process that scientists are looking for to develop and control Earth to produce safe, clean and virtually limitless power to generate electricity for human beings.
A recent analysis of the W7-X aimed to determine whether or not the design of the advanced center may temper the leakage of heat from the heart of the plasma that has long slowed the advancement of stellarators.
“That is among the most important questions in the development of stellarator fusion gadgets,” stated PPPL physicist Novimir Pablant, the main author of a paper explaining the outcomes in Nuclear Fusion.