Photo credit: Gretchen Ertl, CFS/MIT-PSFC, 2021
Researchers from MIT and startup company Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) have designed the world’s strongest fusion magnet, or to be more specific, a large high-temperature superconducting electromagnet that achieved a field strength of 20 tesla. This breakthrough could lead to the creation of practical, inexpensive, carbon-free power plants that may one day help limit the effects of global climate change. Read more for a video and additional information.
Fusion is basically the merging of two small atoms to make a larger one, which results in the release of massive amounts of energy. One caveat: the process requires temperatures of 100,000,000 degrees or more, while suspending it in a way to prevent contact with anything solid. The MIT-CFS fusion design solves this issue by using high-temperature superconductors, which allow for a much stronger magnetic field in a smaller space.
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The challenges of making fusion happen are both technical and scientific. [But once the technology is proven], it’s an inexhaustible, carbon-free source of energy that you can deploy anywhere and at any time. It’s really a fundamentally new energy source,” said Dennis Whyte, director of MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center, which is working with CFS to develop SPARC.