The Wendelstein 7-X, the world’s largest stellarator; a new way to take advantage of the power of nuclear fusion by injecting it with hydrogen and heating gas into plasma. This experiment is part of an effort to find safer and cleaner sources of energy.

A stellarator is a device used to manage the excessive temperature of plasma with magnetic fields in order to control the energy caused by fusing atoms together, also known as a nuclear fusion. Basically, it is a machine that controls really strong and hot energies. The name comes from the possibility of “harnessing the power source of the sun, a stellar object”

Chancellor Merkel starts up Wendelstein 7-X. Credot: Bunderegierung/Güngör
Chancellor Merkel starts up Wendelstein 7-X. Credot: Bunderegierung/Güngör

The Wendelstein 7-X device heats helium atoms using microwave laser for a sustained period. Since it began operating at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald, Germany, it has produced more than 300 plasmas using helium. The first plasma in the machine had a duration of one-tenth of a second and achieved a temperature of around one million degrees Celsius. Eventually, a plasma temperature of six million degrees Celsius was achieved.

But now, scientists began experimenting with hydrogen trying to create conditions similar to the sun’s interior. On Wednesday, a ceremony was held in which German Chancellor Angela Merkel pressed a button to initiate the first hydrogen plasma in Wendelstein 7-X.

A 2MWt pulse of microwave heated a tiny quantity of hydrogen turning it into a hot low-density hydrogen plasma. This meant a success for the scientists. Hans-Stephan Bosch, head of the division responsible for operation of Wendelstein 7-X, said: “With a temperature of 80 million degrees and a lifetime of a quarter of a second, the device’s first hydrogen plasma has completely lived up to our expectations.

Since it is the first experiment with hydrogen,the device will not yet produce energy from the plasma but it could prove that it is capable of being used as a power plant

Source: World Nuclear News