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Nuclear fusion experiment: "Wendelstein 7-X is ready" |  NDR.de - News

Nuclear fusion experiment: “Wendelstein 7-X is ready” | NDR.de – News

Status: 09.08.2022 17:20

In Greifswald, the Wendelstein 7-X nuclear fusion experiment enters the next experimental phase. In a test, the fusion plant should now show whether it is suitable for continuous operation.

With a ceremony at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP), the new phase was officially launched after a conversion. The goal is to generate plasma pulses of up to 30 minutes duration at 50 million degrees. If this is successful, this is also possible in the long term from a purely technical point of view. “That’s the real mission,” physicist and project manager Thomas Klinger said Tuesday. “Wendelstein 7-X is ready.”

AUDIO: Wendelstein 7-X nuclear fusion experiment enters a new phase (1 min)

Federal Research Minister Stark-Watzinger: “Great opportunity”

Nuclear fusion research attempts to mimic the sun’s energy output on earth and thus develop an alternative long-term energy source. Federal Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP) assured increased support for basic research in fusion technology. “The merger is a great opportunity for our energy supply and our independence,” she said at the ceremony in Greifswald at noon. If it were possible to generate large amounts of power through fusion, this would be a valuable contribution to baseload coverage.

Years of conversion for continuous operation

More information

Generating energy like that of the sun is an old dream of humanity. With the “Wendelstein 7-X” nuclear fusion experiment, science is one step closer to completion. plus

More recently, the Greifswald researchers spent about two years building the “stellarator”-type fusion device. Among other things, 600 water cooling circuits have been installed. This is to cool the “tiles” inside the chamber. The heart of the system is the ring of 50 magnetic coils, about 3.5 meters high, which are cooled to 270 degrees below zero. As a result of the conversion, the plasma must not only be generated for a few seconds like before, but for much longer.

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Hydrogen nuclei fuse

The actual experiments are scheduled to begin in September, and preparations are already underway. First, the temperatures in the system gradually increase and the pulses lengthen, according to project manager Klinger. The research facility contains electrically charged hydrogen gas in a vacuum chamber that is exposed to extreme heat. This plasma is kept in suspension by the magnetic coils and is therefore kept away from the chamber walls. The energy source is the heat generated when atomic nuclei fuse.

“Most Powerful Star in the World”

“Wendelstein 7-X is already the world’s most powerful stellarizer,” said IPP chief science officer Sibylle Günter. “The expansion that has now been completed gives us the opportunity to further increase the performance parameters that are important to a fusion power plant and demonstrate that stellarators can perform reliably in continuous operation.” State Science Minister Bettina Martin (SPD) emphasized that Wendelstein 7-X is being investigated at the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania research center at the highest international level on sustainable solutions for future energy needs. “The state government of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is proud to be home to the world’s leading star facility, Wendelstein 7-X.”

Nuclear power source without highly radioactive waste

Fusion power is not yet generated at the Greifswald facility. The goal is to investigate nuclear fusion so that it can be used in future power plants to generate energy from the sun. For this, the heat generated in the chamber will be used as a source of energy and will be converted into electricity through heat exchangers and steam turbines or dissipated as direct heat in heating systems. Fusion power plants are also nuclear power plants, but without highly radioactive waste. The total costs of Wendelstein 7-X amount to 1,300 million euros. The project, which began in 1996, is funded by the federal, state and EU governments.

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NDR 1 Radio MV | The news | 09.08.2022 | 07:00 a.m.

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