Physicists Contain a Strong Enough Magnetic Field For Nuclear Fusion
Japanese physicists claim they’ve generated the most powerful magnetic field that can still be controlled without destroying all their equipment.
Nuclear fusion is a means of producing unlimited clean energy by compressing plasma gas inside a powerful magnetic field. The extreme density creates heat that can fuse atoms together releasing energy. An international assembly is constructing one of the first reactors called the ITER Tokamak, which is scheduled for completion in 2025.
Lead research Shojiro Takeyama from University of Tokyo said in a press release that “One way to produce fusion power is to confine plasma — a sea of charged particles — in a large ring called a tokamak in order to extract energy from it,” The strength of a tokamaks magnetic field is “tantalizingly similar to what our device can produce,”
The more tightly you “squeeze” a magnetic field the more energy you can generate, however it can be difficult to control. For this experiment they used a megagauss generator system to produce electromagnetic flux-compression (EMFC) of a magnetic field measuring 1200 teslas. That is 8000 times stronger than the suns own field and 150 times stronger than the Large Hadron Collider.
Albeit powerful, this particular field is not the strongest ever created, however they managed to contain it for a total of 100 microseconds, thousands of times longer than previously – making it the longest duration a field of this power has been kept stable.
The teams method of electromagnetic field compression can generate a field that is 200 teslas more powerful than the theoretical minimum required for nuclear fusion. The next step may be to test this strategy within a prototype tokamak.