Researchers generate fusion at 100 million Kelvin for 20 seconds


They produced a reaction that reached temperatures of 100 million Kelvin and lasted for 20 seconds. This work was done by a group of researchers from several institutions in South Korea, along with two colleagues from Princeton University and one from Columbia University. The group discusses their work and where they intend to take it over the following few years in their paper that was published in the journal Nature.

In order to generate heat that can be converted into electricity, scientists have been working on sustaining fusion reactions inside of power plants for a number of years. Despite tremendous progress, the primary objective has not yet been accomplished. Controlling fusion reactions has proven challenging for researchers since even the smallest changes can cause instability and cause the reaction to stop. Dealing with the heat that is produced, which reaches millions of degrees, is the main issue. Naturally, materials could not support plasma at that temperature, thus it is suspended using magnets.

Two methods have been developed: One of them is referred to as an edge-transport barrier; it modifies the plasma to keep it from escaping. The researchers undertaking the latest research at Korea's Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research Center employ an alternative strategy known as an internal transport barrier. It controls the plasma by generating a region of high pressure close to its core.

The researchers chose to employ the internal transport barrier because, as they highlight, it produces plasma that is far denser than the other method. They observe that it is simpler to produce higher temperatures close to the core at higher densities. Additionally, it causes a drop in temperature near the plasma's boundaries, which is better for the containment system's machinery.

The team was able to sustain the reaction for 20 seconds while producing heat up to 100 million Kelvin in this most recent test at the facility. This is the first instance in which both of these goals have been accomplished in a single reaction. Other teams have either produced comparable temperatures or maintained their reactions for comparable lengths of time.

The next step for the researchers is to adapt their facility to incorporate the knowledge gained over the course of the previous few years of research. Some components, like the carbon elements on the chamber walls, will be replaced with new ones made of tungsten.

Reference: nature

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