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Researchers Just Broke A Fusion World Record

Scientists have made a new world record for plasma pressure in a fusion reaction. Plasma pressure is the 'key ingredient' for producing energy from nuclear fusion. This new record means that the clean and practical energy source is much closer to reality than ever before. The new record stands at 2.05 atmospheres - a 15% improvement over the previous record of 1.77 atmospheres. Both the records were set at the custom-built Alcator C-Mod reactor situated at MIT.

Image: Bob Mumgaard/Plasma Science and Fusion Centre

These new records are proof that we're getting closer to a reactor that's both industrially and economically practical. This also provides scientists more clues about how best to progress. Physicist Dale Meade of Princeton PlasmaPhysics Laboratory said:
This is an incredible accomplishment that focuses the extremely successful Alcator C-Mod program at MIT. The record plasma pressure confirms the high-magnetic-field approach as an attractive way to viable fusion energy.
To reach this new record, MIT researcher turned the reactor up to 63 million degrees Fahrenheit (35 million degrees Celsius) – this is more than twice as hot as the Sun's core - containing plasma, producing 300 trillion fusion reactions per second for 2 seconds.

There are 3 variables in a fusion reactor - temperature, pressure, and time sustained. All three are essential but plasma pressure is vital to the overall energy produced that is the reason why the MIT team is so inspired. According to the team, pressure levels are "two-thirds of the challenge" of producing nuclear fusion reactions.

The MIT researchers are offering the results of their record-breaking experiments at the International Atomic Energy Agency Fusion Energy Conference this month. They will also be organizing a Reddit AMA, so if you have any questions you can ask them there.



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