“Star in a Jar” Fusion Reactor Could Deliver Limitless Energy
Ashley Allen / 4 years ago
A team of German scientists successfully fired up a prototype nuclear fusion reactor earlier this year and, following months of tests, have determined that the technology’s magnetic containment system is working as planned, setting the stage for potentially limitless fusion energy. The successful testing has set the stage for the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) stellarator – described as being a “star in a jar” since it aims to replicate the process via which the sun generates energy – at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics to enter the next stage of the project, which involves flowing superhot plasma, derived from hydrogen, through a magnetic containment field.
Fusion power works by fusing lighter atoms together, forming heavier atoms and generating a massive amount of energy in the process which, unlike nuclear fission, doesn’t produce radioactive waste.
David Gates, a research physicist heavily involved in the project, thinks that the W7-X reactor’s successful startup is a huge step forward for fusion energy. “This lays the groundwork for the exciting high-performance plasma operations expected in the near future,” Gates told Seeker.
Should the W7-X reactor project progress as planned, it mark the advent of safe, clean, and practically infinite energy.
“The fuel source is found in seawater in quantities sufficient to last tens of thousands of years,” Gates said. “The waste product is helium, an inert gas. A viable fusion reactor would provide a secure, plentiful and environmentally benign energy resource to all nations.”
“Fusion is a problem best solved by the peoples of all nations working together, since the entire world will benefit from it,” he added.