Fusion Reactors have long been a mystical potential energy source that have been conceptualized and debated for over fifty years now. But today, the reality of the possibilities within these complex reactors is much closer to becoming a generating truth. The U.S. Department of Energy has commissioned the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory began building a machine called a “compact stellarator.”
This star-studded machine is intended to perfect the magnetic fields needed to control the intense thermonuclear activity involved. The interior of the stellarator machine contains 18 of the most advanced electromagnets ever designed. Princeton Engineers are creating coils that weigh some 6000 pounds and come in a variety of three different shapes. When linked up to the stellarator compactor the coils form a precisely shaped magnetic field. This field can manipulate superheated ionized gas, otherwise known as plasma in this case.
Some Noteworthy Facts:
- In order to get like-charged nuclei to bond, the plasma has to heat up to temperatures hotter than the sun’s core.
- The power that the proposed operating Stellarator reactor could generate is 1000 megawatts.
- The federal monetary supplementation contributed so far tops out at $74 million dollars and climbing.
- By 2012, the first National Compact Stellarator Experiment is scheduled to start production operations.
Regardless of what is to be gained from this experimentation-which is making strong headway recently-fusion power plants still remain perhaps decades away from reality. Aside from the discouraging timeline, billions of dollars will need to be invested throughout the years in order to see this promising energy solution.