Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Nuclear fusion plant will soon produce plasma

Nuclear fusion plant will soon produce plasma

Later this year, the Max Planck Institute in Greifswald wants to generate first plasma in nuclear fusion facility "Wendelstein 7-X". The solenoids, long a problem child of the plant have mastered the function tests.

Greifswald (AP) - The first generation of the fusion plasma in the Greifswald nuclear fusion experiment "Wendelstein 7-X" is approaching. The tests of the 70 magnets, a key component in the fusion device are successfully completed, the Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics in Greifswald shared with.

Later this year, is to be produced in the plant, whose commissioning was delayed again and again, the first plasma. "Wendelstein 7-X" - According to Institute data after completion of the world's largest fusion device of the stellarator type - is still not produce energy, but examine the power plant suitability.

"The plant will demonstrate the essential property of this type merger to continuous operation," said spokeswoman Isabella Milch. In Cadarache, France created the first demonstration plant with ITER tokamak type, which can be operated "pulsed" - that is, it must be started in the meantime again and again. In nuclear fusion power plants should later - so the expectation of the researchers - in analogy to the processes on the sun through the fusion of atomic nuclei energy and climate are produced environmentally friendly. When the technology will actually power plant ripe, is not yet open.

A year ago, researchers began with the operation preparation of the Greifswald plant and examined the components of the approximately 725-ton machine. Several tests as well as the operating license stood now pending. On the one hand an "ultra-high-vacuum" must be created in the magnetic cage, as spokeswoman Isabella Milch said. The technicians had initially discovered several small leaks that are now closed and checked. In addition, after the successful test of the superconducting magnet coils, the magnetic field should be measured, in the later up to 100 million degrees hot plasma to float without contact.

Especially problems in the construction of complicated tortuous, depending 3.50 meters high solenoids had thrown back the project by several years. The total cost of the Greifswald fusion experiment, financed by the euro nuclear program of the EU, the Federal Government and the Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern had more than doubled due to the longer construction period of about 500 million to over one billion euros. Criticism of the fusion research comes mainly from the Greens and environmental associations. They see in it an obstacle to the energy revolution. Moreover, they had doubts about the safety of the system that have been dispelled by a company commissioned by the approval authority TÜV certificate.

In the first plasma tests in Greifswald are - completely radioactively free - first normal hydrogen nuclei are fused together. No earlier than in 2017 to be used earlier reportedly deuterium (heavy hydrogen). With the merger of these nuclei small amounts of radioactivity are released. Unlike nuclear fission in nuclear power plants but not devastating chain reaction is possible in the merger.

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