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Fusion


— Energy

Germany's Wendelstein 7-X fusion reactor produces its first flash of hydrogen plasma

Experimentation with Germany's newest fusion reactor is beginning to heat up, to temperatures of around 80 million degrees Celsius, to be precise. Having fired up the Wendelstein 7-X to produce helium plasma late last year, researchers have built on their early success to generate its first hydrogen plasma, an event they say begins the true scientific operation of the world's largest fusion stellarator.

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— Energy

Researchers can now image the flow of energy in nuclear fusion ignition attempts

It's fair to say that nuclear fusion is the holy grail of clean energy production, with the potential to provide limitless clean energy, but right now there are a fair few barriers to making it a reality. An international team of researchers has inched the dream one step closer to reality, creating a method by which energy dispersal can be observed during ignition attempts, paving the way for improved energy delivery during the process.

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— Energy

First plasma from Wendelstein 7-X fusion reactor

Testing of the Wendelstein 7-x stellarator has started with a bang, albeit a very very small one, with researchers switching on the experimental fusion reactor to produce its first helium plasma at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald, Germany. After almost a decade of construction work and more than a million assembly hours, the first tests have gone according to plan with the researchers to shift focus to producing hydrogen plasma after the new year.

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— Materials

New technique may make materials hotter than the Sun's core in 20 quadrillionths of a second

If some people get impatient waiting for a soft-boiled egg to cook, that's nothing compared to a group of theoretical physicists at the Imperial College London. They've come up with a new method that could allow lasers to heat certain materials to temperatures hotter than at the Sun's core in 20 quadrillionths of a second. The new technique would reportedly be 100 times faster than the world's most energetic laser system at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California, and may one day have applications in future fusion research.

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— Energy

Wendelstein 7-x stellarator puts new twist on nuclear fusion power

In a large complex located at Greifswald in the north-east corner of Germany, sits a new and unusual nuclear fusion reactor awaiting a few final tests before being powered-up for the very first time. Dubbed the Wendelstein 7-x fusion stellarator, it has been more than 15 years in the making and is claimed to be so magnetically efficient that it will be able to continuously contain super-hot plasma in its enormous magnetic field for more than 30 minutes at a time. If successful, this new reactor may help realize the long-held goal of continuous operation essential for the success of nuclear fusion power generation.

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— Energy

ARC reactor design uses superconducting magnets to draw fusion power closer

Fusion power can seem a bit like the last bus at night; it's always coming, but never arrives. MIT is working to change that with a new compact tokamak fusion reactor design based on the latest magnetic superconductor technology. The ARC (affordable, robust, compact) reactor design promises smaller, cheaper reactors that could make fusion power practical within 10 years.

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— Energy

Lockheed Martin announces it's working on a compact fusion reactor

Fusion reactors are a bit like buses; you wait forever for one, then two come along at once. No sooner does the University of Washington announce that it’s working on a breakthrough compact fusion reactor (CFR) than Lockheed Martin says that its Revolutionary Technology Programs unit, AKA the Skunk Works, in Palmdale, California has one that could be ready for market within ten years. Read More
— Energy

University of Washington fusion reactor promises "cheaper than coal" energy

In the 21st century, the world lives with two futures ahead of it – one of looming energy shortages, and another of godlike energy abundance. The key to this whether it’s possible to turn fusion reactor technology from a laboratory exercise into a real-world application. Engineers that the University of Washington are working on a fusion reactor that, when scaled up, could produce energy on a practical scale, yet at a cost rivaling that of a conventional coal-powered plant. Read More
— Space

Determining the age of stars with sound waves

One of the long-standing difficulties in astrophysics has been a way to accurately determine the age of a star. Brand new stars are obvious from their location in or near "star nurseries" of interstellar gas and dust, and "adult" stars can be roughly characterized through various methods, including a calculation based on their mass and luminosity. Unfortunately, these methods are approximations at best. Researchers at KU Leuven's Institute for Astronomy have now discovered a way to distinguish young stars from older ones by measuring the acoustic waves that they emit using ultrasound technology. Read More
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