SCEINCE

New superconducting magnet breaks magnetic field strength records

Set the controls for the heart of the sun.

A world powered by nuclear fusion always seems to be 30 years old. With years of training and no serious success, public opinion about the energy of synthesis is comparable to that of science fiction technology.

And some people are naturally skeptical, for good reason. The conditions for nuclear fusion are quite extreme, like those found in the nucleus of stars. Until now, in the experiments that were conducted, the whole process required more energy than it produced. This net output power is usually measured by an indicator, denoted by Q, which is simply the ratio of the power produced to the power consumed. So far, our best efforts have led to a Q of 0.7.

However, a recent breakthrough may change that. By using high-temperature superconductors, researchers from Commonwealth Fusion Systems claim that they could build a fully operational thermonuclear power plant with a Q over 10! Their design is called SPARC and they have just completed the final proof of the concept they needed before they could start building their reactor. They achieved a magnetic field strength of 20 tesla, which is the highest magnetic flux density ever produced by high-temperature superconductors on this scale. To learn more, watch this video from the YouTube channel Draw with Matt Ferrell, where he interviewed Dr. Martin Greenwald, Deputy Director and Senior Research Fellow at MIT.





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