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Will W7-X successfully become our first ever fusion reactor?

Will W7-X successfully become our first ever fusion reactor?

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In Summary

At present, only Fusion energy is the viable idea to compensate the growing energy needs, and W7-X reactor research at Germany is closing their gap in calling the fusion energy a reality! 

Editor Posted by Ansheed
26/04/2017

The unlimited energy!

Ambiguously, fusion energy will be unlimited and unrestricted. They don’t possess any disadvantages or limitations like their fellow members do. The only concern or rather, the headache is containing such a reaction. We all are familiar with nuclear fission where a heavy atom is split to release energy. But unfortunately, the availability of fuel for a fission reaction, their waste disposal and eco- hazard would poke your heart as well as the pocket! Whereas conventional energy sources have proved to be highly inefficient and choking our planet.

What about something that is apparently unlimited and less costly in energy production? We are already acquainted with fusion reaction through our sun, inside which, hydrogen atoms combine to form helium and exchanges energy as heat and light in return. Scientists are looking to mimic the same reaction on a much smaller scale, where handling the million degrees plasma open to be a headache. Though many types of research are live throughout the planet, the technical pullback kept the idea inside the book. However, W7-X prototype stellarator (fusion reactor) is waving hope for our energy dreams.

The magnetic sheath!

Containing the superhot plasma could be done under high magnetic field, which is, in fact, one among other containment ideas like inertial confinement, electrostatic inertial confinement, Electric pinches etc. W7-X fusion reactor is situated on Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics, Greifswald, Germany & a recent association with US department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory had confirmed a progress in the study. W7-X uses magnetic field with a design discrepancy of 1 in 100,000, which is one of the best scores so far in any studies.

This billion euro project is in a fast pace and hopes to hit a conclusion any sooner. But before releasing it for utilization, it might require quite a number of tests and trials to rule out any hidden issues. One factor that indeed pulled the progress back was the huge initial costs required for R& D of a fusion reactor. But when countries hold their hands for a common cause the problem was somewhat solved. Scientists hope to bring W7-X into operation within next 10 years.

Future

If everything you read could be true, then we are looking into a world with unlimited availability of energy, that too green energy without sacrificing environment or its tenants. Zero emission, no mining, manageable and low waste, low running costs and unlimited energy. Fusion mainly uses the isotopes of hydrogen like Tritium or Deuterium, which we’re blessed with two third of planet as water. Hydrogen can be obtained from water through hydrolysis, which is an easy job, comparably. So we might either end up in a self-sustaining planet without energy crisis or a doomed world with the struggle for clean energy!

Source:

T. Sunn Pedersen et al. Confirmation of the topology of the Wendelstein 7-X magnetic field to better than 1:100,000, Nature Communications (2016). DOI: 10.1038/ncomms13493