New Record-Breaking Magnet Advances Toward Fusion Power

Oct, 2021 - By SMI

New Record-Breaking Magnet Advances Toward Fusion Power

After 3 years of work, scientists succeeded in creating world’s strongest fusion magnet that could be used in the first ever fusion power plant.

A research team at MIT was working on an experimental fusion reactor for past 3 years, which now has succeeded to develop the strongest electromagnet ever. The novel magnet generated the most powerful magnetic field having the strength of 20 tesla. The successful demonstration of the discovery made it certain that the electromagnet can be used to build the world’s first fusion power plant, which will be economical and carbon-free and it could make a great contribution to restrict global climate change effects. The project was led by the scientists at MIT and Commonwealth Fusion System (CFS), a company working to bring fusion energy technology to market.

This innovation uses high-temperature superconductors, allowing a stronger magnetic field in a smaller place. A superconducting material that was commercialized a few years back is the base for the design of this innovation. As the idea of this innovation was a class project initially, it slowly led to the development of the ARC power plant design in 2015. Further, the team was working for past 3 years to bring the concept of this new magnet to reality. To manufacture specific equipment for the innovation, it needed unique procedures and a great amount of work. The team began with physics model and a CAD design and worked on many prototypes to build the magnet.

The magnet built by the team uses 267km of superconducting tape which forms 16 plates inside the D-shaped case of it. When the magnet is cooled at the temperature of -253.15 °C, it develops superconductivity and generates the most powerful magnetic field. The device is named as SPARC (Smallest Private-Funded Affordable Robust Compact) and based on the performance of the magnet, the scientists claim that this tokamak (a device that uses a strong magnetic field to confine plasma) is capable of achieving net positive energy and the further step would be to scale up to build a physical power plant.

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