Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fusion breakthrough?

Perusing the science pages as I am wont to do, I came across this little snippet about a Reversed Field Pinch experiment that produced an interesting result.
A discovery made in the RFX-mod Reversed Field Pinch (RFP) fusion device demonstrated that if one keeps on increasing the current, above 1.5 million amperes, the helix becomes very smooth, the trapping of the plasma in the magnetic fields improves and the plasma gets hotter. Moreover, the helical state appears to be the preferred one at high current and is spontaneously chosen, or self-organized, by the plasma. RFX is a large RFP device (ten cubic meter plasma) located in Padova, Italy.
One of the traditional problems with fusion containment in general is that it becomes 'disorganised' past a certain point. The exciting thing about this piece of news is that the Plasma can be made to self organise into a helix, reducing containment issues.

If true, this could be a radical step forward towards the goal of Fusion power. Self organising plasma, who'd have thought?

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