Fusion Reactor Breakthrough Claim


Sat, Aug 29th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Science Mag reports that a secretive and privately funded company called Tri Alpha Energy was able to build a machine capable of holding a ball of gas heated at 10 million degrees Celcius for 5 milliseconds. While this may seem like too short a period of time, the reaction only stopped because of the amount of available energy instead of decay.

Like other fusion techniques, Tri Alpha’s device aims to confine a gas so hot that its atoms are stripped of electrons, producing a roiling mixture of electrons and ions known as plasma. If the ions collide with enough force, they fuse, converting some of their mass into energy, but this requires temperatures of at least 100 million degrees Celsius with conventional fuel, hot enough to melt any container. So the first challenge for reactor designers is how to confine the plasma without touching it. Facilities like the NIF rapidly implode the plasma, relying on its inward inertia to hold it long enough for a burst of fusion reactions. The ITER, in contrast, holds the plasma steady with powerful magnetic fields inside a doughnut-shaped chamber known as a tokamak. Some of the field is provided by a complex network of superconducting magnets, the rest by the plasma itself flowing around the ring like an electric current.



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