November 1, 2015


Germany is about to start up a monster machine that could revolutionize the way we use energy (Jessica Orwig, Oct. 30, 2015, Business Insider)

Last year, after 1.1 million construction hours, the institute completed the world's largest nuclear-fusion machine of its kind, called a stellarator.

The machine, which has a diameter of 52 feet, is called the W7-X.

And after more than a year of tests, engineers are finally ready to fire up the $1.1 billion machine for the first time. It could happen before the end of this month, Science reported. [...]

The key to a successful nuclear-fusion reactor of any kind is to generate, confine, and control a blob of gas, called a plasma, that has been heated to temperatures of more than 180 million degrees Fahrenheit.

At these blazing temperatures, the electrons are ripped from their atoms, forming ions.

Normally, the ions bounce off one another like bumper cars, but under these extreme conditions the repulsive forces are overcome.

The ions are therefore able to collide and fuse together, which generates energy, and you have accomplished nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion is different from what fuels today's nuclear reactors, which operate with energy from atoms that decay, or break apart, instead of fusing together.

Nuclear fusion is the process that has been fueling our sun for about 4.5 billion years and will continue to do so for another estimated 4 billion years.

Once engineers have heated the gas in the reactor to the right temperature, they use super-chilled magnetic coils to generate powerful magnetic fields that contain and control the plasma.

Posted by at November 1, 2015 7:09 PM