- The tokamak is one of several types of magnetic confinement devices being developed to produce controlled thermonuclear fusion power.
- China broke the record in holding plasma for over 100 seconds in 2018.
- A Russian tokamak prototype is expected to be fully functional at the end of 2021.
Russia just announced near completion of its own new tokamak prototype. Russia is one of the nations involved in the ITER experiment, the world’s largest fusion experiment. Each nation involved in the project has to have its own tokamak. The tokamak is one of several types of magnetic confinement devices being developed to produce controlled thermonuclear fusion power.
Thirty-five nations are collaborating on the experiment. The ITER members, China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States have combined resources to conquer one of the great frontiers in science—reproducing on Earth the boundless energy that fuels the Sun and the stars.
The Russian tokamak is T-15MD, which will be able to work in the ITER regime. Even a thermonuclear magnetic field at 2T will allow it to control plasma for the 30 second impulses. In that time, its configuration will stabilize and will allow full imitation of the ITER reactor. The tesla (symbol: T) is a derived unit of the magnetic induction (also, magnetic flux density) in the International System of Units. One tesla is equal to one weber per square meter.
Thus far, China holds the record for holding high temperature plasma at 101.2 seconds in 2018. Hence, it is six times hotter than the sun. China’s EAST (Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak) reactor in Hefei achieved a temperature exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius. Inside the Sun, hydrogen fuses together at temperatures of around 15 million degrees Celsius. Also if plasma is pure and only containes ionized hydrogen, it is basically clear. However, it can never be 100% pure, hence the glow will still be observed inside the reactor according to the physicists.
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The Russian physicists at the Kurchatov Institute believe during the diverter use, it is necessary to wash it with streams of liquid lithium, redistributing the flow of incident power to the divertor plates over a larger area, thereby reducing the heat load. This solution has to be worked out on the T-15MD tokamak before scaling up for truly large installations, such as ITER. The diverter is necessary to prolong the life of the plasma. The Kurchatov Institute is Russia’s leading research and development institution in the field of nuclear energy.
The T-15MD tokamak in hybrid regime is using plasma cord with enlarged internal radius, in comparison to the external 1:2,2. It is expected to be functional by the end of 2020. A hybrid system does not need a full-fledged nuclear or fusion reactor. The tokamak in it serves only as a source of neutrons that trigger the nuclear decay of fuel in an external blanket. Hybrid systems combine fission and fusion reactions. Such plants can be used to generate fuel, to dispose of hazardous actinides, and, of course, to generate electricity
One of the purposes of creating such reactors is the demand for energy globally, due to significant population increase around the globe. According to the 2019 World Global Energy Statistical Yearbook, the consumption continues to grow. Therefore, in the future, the natural resources will no longer sustain the needed supply.
The thermonuclear reactors are not going to be hard to supply with fuel. For the synthesis, nuclei of heavy isotopes of hydrogen, deuterium and tritium can be used. All three elements are not hard to obtain.
- Hydrogen is the chemical element with the symbol H and atomic number 1. With a standard atomic weight of 1.008, hydrogen is the lightest element in the periodic table. Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical substance in the Universe, constituting roughly 75% of all baryonic mass.
- Deuterium, (D, or 2H), also called heavy hydrogen, is an isotope of hydrogen with a nucleus consisting of one proton and one neutron, which is double the mass of the nucleus of ordinary hydrogen.
- Tritium or hydrogen-3 is a rare and radioactive isotope of hydrogen. The nucleus of tritium contains one proton and two neutrons, whereas the nucleus of the most common isotope hydrogen-1 contains just one proton, and that of hydrogen-2 contains one proton and one neutron.