Fusion reactors on two continents achieved important milestones on the road to commercial fusion.
Scientists at the United Kingdom’s Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, have upgraded the Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak (MAST) with a new exhaust system. That system the Super-X Diverter could handle the enormous amounts of heat a fusion reactor generates, Popular Mechanics claims.
Super-hot exhaust heat is one of the biggest problems fusion developers face. The hope is that the Super-X Diverter can reduce the heat to a manageable level.
Initial results from the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) test show the Super-X Diverter works, a UKAEA press release claims. The UKAEA claims the Super-X could “make compact fusion power plants commercially viable.”
UKAEA claims its Solved Major Fusion Problem
Without an exhaust system like Super-X fusion reactor components could melt or burn out fast. Among other problems that constitutes a fire hazard. That could make fusion reactors too expensive to be a commercially viable power source.
The Super-X system could reduce heat from a fusion reactor tenfold. The UKAEA hopes to build a spherical tokamak commercial fusion reactor by the 2040s.
“Super-X reduces the heat on the exhaust system from a blowtorch level down to more like you’d find in a car engine,” UKAEA lead scientist Dr. Andrew Kirk said. “This could mean it would only have to be replaced once during the lifetime of a power plant.”
The MAST is a fusion reactor that operated from 2000 to 2013. After a retrofit the MAST started operating again in 2020 with the Super-X system.
What is Happening with Chinese Fusion?
In the science reporting by 12-year-olds department, the Chinese Academy of Sciences claims to have reached a set a world record with its artificial sun.
To explain, Xinhuanet ran this childish headline: “Chinese artificial sun” sets new world record.” Obviously nobody has built an artificial sun, instead the story refers to a fusion reactor.
I don’t know what an artificial sun is. My guess is a non English-speaking person or algorithm wrote that idiotic term.
What really happened is the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor at the Hefei Institutes of Physical Science under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) created plasma that reached a temperature of 120 million degrees Celsius (248 million degrees Fahrenheit) for 101 seconds. Hence, a reactor generated some hot plasma.
The EAST test is a key step toward a fusion reactor test, Xihua claims. So yes, the world is moving towards fusion or at least a test of fusion.