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The objective of fusion research is to develop a power plant favourable to the climate and environment. Like the sun, it is to derive energy from fusion of atomic nuclei. As the fusion fire does not ignite till temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees are attained, the fuel, viz. a low-density hydrogen plasma, ought not to come into contact with cold vessel walls. Confined by magnetic fields, it levitates inside a vacuum chamber with hardly any contact.
The magnetic cage of Wendelstein 7-X is formed by a ring of 50 superconducting magnet coils about 3.5 metres high. Their special shapes are the result of sophisticated optimisation calculations. Although Wendelstein 7-X is not meant to produce energy, the device should prove that stellarators are suitable for power plants. For the first time the quality of the plasma confinement in a stellarator is to attain the level of competing devices of the tokamak type.
For this purpose, further stages of modification are being planned. For example, the graphite tiles of the divertor are to be replaced in a few years by carbon-fibre-reinforced carbon elements that are additionally water-cooled. This will allow discharges lasting up to 30 minutes in which it can be tested whether Wendelstein 7-X will achieve its optimisation targets in the long run: In this way the device is to demonstrate the essential advantage of stellarators, viz. their capability for continuous operation.
Results showed a remarkable fidelity to the design of the highly complex magnetic field. "To our knowledge," the authors write of the discrepancy of less than one part in 100,000, "this is an unprecedented accuracy, both in terms of the as-built engineering of a fusion device, as well as in the measurement of magnetic topology."
originally posted by: hiddenNZ
And the downside? What happens if is fails...massively? Just asking cause I'm a box of rocks.