Physicists have confirmed that the plasma in the Wendelstein 7-X reactor could be twice as hot as that in the sun’s core.
These results were achieved due to the elimination of internal energy losses in the structure.
We are talking about the operation of an experimental nuclear reactor – Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) is an installation for the study of high-temperature plasma: it was created to test the industrial suitability of a stellarator-type fusion reactor.
Stellarators are not the same as common symmetric fusion reactors in tokamak, but extremely complex designs. But everyone has one goal – to recreate the processes taking place inside the Sun. To do this, streams of plasma are brought to extreme temperatures and kept under pressure, causing the atoms to collide and fuse together, producing colossal amounts of energy.
The Wendelstein 7-X reactor is so complex that supercomputers were used to design it. It features a series of 50 superconducting magnetic coils to hold the plasma in place. In 2018, the physicists working on the project set new records for energy density and plasma confinement for this type of fusion reactor.
Then physicists heated the plasma to 20 million ° C – this is significantly higher than the temperature of the Sun, for comparison, our nearest star is incandescent to a temperature of 15 million ° C. But for Wendelstein 7-X this is not the limit.
Physicists have studied at what stages of operation the reactor can lose heat and performance in order to eliminate these problems. After they analyzed the new scheme of work, they came to the conclusion that Wendelstein 7-X could create a plasma that is twice as hot as that in the core of the Sun.
The next experiments with the reactor are planned for 2022. During these tests, physicists will use a water-cooling system: with the help of it, the maximum duration of such tests will be increased.