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Power Science Technology

UK's Newest Tokamak Fusion Reactor Has Created Its First Plasma ( 308

After being switched on for the first time last Friday, the UK's newest fusion reactor has successfully generated a molten mass of electrically-charged gas, or plasma, inside its core. Futurism reports: Called the ST40, the reactor was constructed by Tokamak Energy, one of the leading private fusion energy companies in the world. The company was founded in 2009 with the express purpose of designing and developing small fusion reactors to introduce fusion power into the grid by 2030. Now that the ST40 is running, the company will commission and install the complete set of magnetic coils needed to reach fusion temperatures. The ST40 should be creating a plasma temperature as hot as the center of the Sun -- 15 million degrees Celsius (27 million degrees Fahrenheit) -- by Autumn 2017. By 2018, the ST40 will produce plasma temperatures of 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million degrees Fahrenheit), another record-breaker for a privately owned and funded fusion reactor. That temperature threshold is important, as it is the minimum temperature for inducing the controlled fusion reaction. Assuming the ST40 succeeds, it will prove that its novel design can produce commercially viable fusion power.
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UK's Newest Tokamak Fusion Reactor Has Created Its First Plasma

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  • by NaughtyNimitz ( 763264 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @03:20AM (#54339215)
    100 million degrees celsius? I hope the containment system will hold... I know the dangers of extreme heat: I burned my tongue on a microwaved chocolate milk once.
  • Long road ahead... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    FWIW they don't plan on breaking net zero energy with this model. Their current plam is their *next* model to break even energy by 2020...

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      If you think about it, even if a lab-scale version were to be net positive energy tomorrow, it would still be, what, 20-odd years to see a true grid-scale version?

      5 years to fund and build a scaled-up model plant at some reasonable fraction of a grid scale plant, say, 100 megawatts, another 5 years of debugging and operation to convince anyone that a grid-scale version was workable, and then another 10 years to fund, site, build and operate the first grid-scale plant.

      And even if it worked perfectly as inten

  • My hobby: extrapolating [].

    I'm rooting for viable fusion power as much as the next guy, but only time will tell if they will be able to reach those temperatures.
    Until now, nobody has been able to make a tokamak fully work, so the burden of proof is on them.

  • "Molten mass" indeed. Wouldn't you expect, when writing to an audience, that is at least marginally interested in technical and scientific issues, that they would be able to understand (or at least willing to put up with) technical terms? Too many popularisers of science go too far in dumbing down what they write, or perhaps that is their own level of understanding. I find it disrespectful of your audience, when you try to convert everything to baby-language and inept simile. Like that other gripe of mine:

  • a miasma of incandescent plasma? Should I give up on thinking This Might Be Gas?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    We shouldn't keep enabling the US to keep using its backwards measurement system, let alone the UK or Canada where it's mixtures of metric and imperial in inconsistent ways.

    Just give C, no one here should need F

  • For at least 50 years now, commercially viable fusion power has been about 10 years away.

  • "We are unveiling the first world-class controlled fusion device to have been designed, built, and operated by a private venture. "

    What complete BS. Off the top of my head I can name the KMS ICF and the Riggatron as pure private-venture reactors that pre-date this one by*decades*. The later is named for the bank that funded it.

Interchangeable parts won't.