A functional fusion reactor may still be a dream, but it’s a dream that is slowly becoming a reality with numerous research efforts and experiments aiming to unlock the near unlimited supply of clean energy that such a reactor would provide. The challenges scientists face in getting nuclear fusion to work are undeniably difficult, but not insurmountable, and two young physicists have recently solved one of the major problems engineers have been grappling with for almost half a century.
Last year, scientists started up a new type of massive nuclear fusion reactor for the first time, known as a stellarator.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Greifswald, Germany, injected a tiny amount of hydrogen and heated it until it became plasma, effectively mimicking conditions inside the sun.
But since then scientists have been asking whether the ambitious device – named Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) – works as it is supposed to, producing the right magnetic fields.
Now a research paper has shown tests over the past few months have proven the complex design is working as expected.