Magnet milestones move distant nuclear fusion dream closer
Teams working on two continents have marked similar milestones in their respective efforts to tap an energy source key to the fight against climate change: They’ve each produced very impressive magnets.
SEPT. 9, 2021 – On Thursday, scientists at the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor in southern France took delivery of the first part of a massive magnet so strong its American manufacturer claims it can lift an aircraft carrier.
Almost 60 feet (nearly 20 meters) tall and 14 feet (more than four meters) in diameter when fully assembled, the magnet is a crucial component in the attempt by 35 nations to master nuclear fusion.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists and a private company announced separately this week that they, too, have hit a milestone with the successful test of the world’s strongest high temperature superconducting magnet that may allow the team to leapfrog ITER in the race to build a ‘sun on earth.’
Unlike existing fission reactors that produce radioactive waste and sometimes catastrophic meltdowns, proponents of fusion say it offers a clean and virtually limitless supply of energy. If, that is, scientists and engineers can figure out how to harness it — they have been working on the problem for nearly a century.
Click here to read the full Associated Press story by Frank Jordans, Seth Borenstein and Daniel Cole.