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The USA has created the strongest magnet in the world, which promises a breakthrough in the field of thermonuclear reactors

Looking at the seven-story building with the ITER fusion reactor, one can imagine that size matters. And yet, scientists are not abandoning their attempts to reduce the size of thermonuclear installations to some sane size, which will truly make thermonuclear energy economically justified. One of these directions is being laid at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - these are compact super-powerful superconducting magnets.

The developers believe that science has done enough to create commercially viable fusion reactors based on traditional tokamaks. Based on the knowledge gained, you can create a compact thermonuclear reactor. All that is needed is to make electromagnets much more powerful than those that are currently being produced. This will make it possible to keep plasma heated to 100 million degrees Celsius or more in small-volume reactors. In particular, the new superconducting magnets created at MIT should reduce the volume of the working chambers of the reactors by 40 (!) Times.

The idea of ​​the developers is that traditional superconducting magnets, for example, those involved in the ITER project , use low-temperature superconductivity (they cool down to a temperature of about -269 ° C), and for a multiple increase in the magnetic field strength, it is enough to switch to high-temperature superconductivity. A simple increase in the operating temperature of the magnets will significantly increase the field strength without the invention of any unique technology. It remains only to make such a magnet. And it was made and even tested!

Recently in the MIT laboratory, scientists, together with the startup Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), which proposed the idea of ​​a new magnet, tested a unique magnet for future compact fusion reactors. When cooled to a temperature of about -253.15 ° C, the experimental magnet developed a record magnetic field strength of 20 Tesla. It is argued that there are no analogues to this.

To test the concept, a laboratory thermonuclear reactor SPARC will be created on the basis of 18 such magnets by 2025. Its diameter will be about 3 meters, but each electromagnet will contain 267 km of special tape of superconducting materials, folded into 16 D-shaped plates. It is claimed that a new material in tape (rolls) has recently become commercially available and will pave the way for the commercialization of the technology.


The launch of a laboratory model of the reactor in 2025 will have to demonstrate the ability to generate more energy than it absorbs to support the fusion reaction. At the next stage, it is planned to build an experimental ARC reactor with a working chamber twice the diameter - up to 7 meters, but this will still be half that of the ITER reactor. The ARC project, which was announced back in 2015, will produce electricity with an efficiency of more than one - up to 3 or even 6 times.

“The niche we've been filling is to use conventional plasma physics, conventional designs and tokamak engineering, but bring new magnet technology to them, ” the scientists say. “So we didn't need to innovate in half a dozen different areas. We simply innovated in the magnet and then applied the knowledge base we have accumulated over the past decades.

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