A team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other institutions say their compact SPARC fusion reactor should actually work – at least in theory, as they claim in a series of recently published research papers.
In a total of seven articles written by 47 researchers from 12 institutions, the team claims that no unexpected obstacles or surprises emerged during the planning stages.
In other words, the study “confirms that the design we’re working on is very likely to work,” said Martin Greenwald, deputy director of the MIT Plasma Science and Synthesis Center and project manager, New York Times.
The power of fusion remains elusive, but the technology promises to one day become a safe and clean way to produce energy by merging atomic nuclei like the Sun. Despite almost centuries of research, no one has yet been able to do them.
SPARC, one of the largest private projects of its kind in the field, will be the first of its kind: a “burning plasma”
Thanks to advances in superconducting magnets, the team hopes to achieve the same performance as far larger reactors, such as the giant ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor), which began assembly in July.
Magnets are used to keep the extremely hot and high pressure reactions taking place inside the reactor, one of the biggest challenges of synthesis.
According to the team’s calculations, SPARC should be able to produce twice as much synthesis energy as the amount needed to generate the reaction. This would be a huge leap, as no researcher has yet been able to fight it.
In fact, in the articles, the researchers note that in theory, ten times the amount could be generated – although there is a lot of work to be done before they can say for sure.
The MIT team hopes to build its compact reactor in the next three to four years, with a possible electricity generation target starting in 2035, Times reports.
“What we’re trying to do is put the project on the strongest possible physical foundation so that we’re confident in how it will perform, and then provide guidance and answer questions about engineering design as it goes on. Greenwald said in an official statement.
READ MORE: The compact fusion reactor is “very likely to work”, studies suggest[[[[New York Times]
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