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The first plasma: the Wendelstein 7-X fusion device is now in operation

Accepted submission by DeathMonkey at 2015-12-10 22:39:50
Science
The Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) is reporting a successful startup of the experimental Wendelstein 7-X fusion device. [ipp.mpg.de]

On 10th December, the day had arrived: the operating team in the control room started up the magnetic field and initiated the computer-operated experiment control system. It fed around one milligram of helium gas into the evacuated plasma vessel, switched on the microwave heating for a short 1,3 megawatt pulse – and the first plasma could be observed by the installed cameras and measuring devices.

“We’re starting with a plasma produced from the noble gas helium. We’re not changing over to the actual investigation object, a hydrogen plasma, until next year,” explains project leader Professor Thomas Klinger: “This is because it’s easier to achieve the plasma state with helium. In addition, we can clean the surface of the plasma vessel with helium plasmas.”

The objective of fusion research is to develop a power source that is friendly to the climate and, similarly to the sun, harvests energy from the fusion of atomic nuclei.

Original Submission