WEGA – Forty-year-old fusion experiment to cross the Atlantic

By . Published on 24 October 2014 in:
News, October 2014, , ,

The WEGA fusion device at Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics [IPP] in Greifswald, Germany, is being handed over to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States, after 13 years of successful work. WEGA is making room for the Wendelstein 7-X large-scale device, which is currently in development at IPP and will be completed in 2015.

Under the name “Wendelstein Experiment in Grenoble for the Application of Radio Frequency Heating”, this small fusion device was commissioned in 1975 as a joint German-French-Belgian project. Scientists from IPP at Garching and Centre d´Etudes Nucléaires at Grenoble had jointly planned, built and operated WEGA. After a seventeen-year stopover at the University of Stuttgart the device started up again at IPP Greifswald in 2001 until the end of 2013.

At IPP, WEGA was mainly used for training students and young scientific personnel, being the subject of two bachelor, two master, 13 diploma and six PhD theses. But WEGA was not restricted to preparation and training, it also served for research. Prominent topics included plasma turbulence, heating of dense plasmas, wall conditioning or confinement of high-energy electrons.

At almost 40 years old, WEGA is one of the longest-living fusion experiments and is far from retirement. The fusion device will now operate at the Center for Plasma-Material Interactions [CPMI]. Under its new name, HIDRA (Hybrid Illinois Device for Research and Applications), it will continue to be used for plasma physics and fusion research. CPMI plans numerous application possibilities for the device, including in particular investigation of the interaction between the plasma and wall material of the plasma vessel.

The transfer of WEGA is one of several constituents of American-German collaboration around Wendelstein 7-X.

When completed, Wendelstein 7-X will be the world’s largest stellarator type fusion device. A stellarator uses magnetic fields to confine a hot plasma for sustaining a controlled nuclear reaction. stellarators were popular until the 1970s, when new technology designs led them to falling from favour. However, during the past years, problems on current technology for plasma confinement have led to renewed interest in the stellarator design.

The project, with a projected total cost of 1.06 billion Euro, aims is to investigate the new stellarator’s suitability for a power plant.

For more information on the Wendelstein 7-X fusion device, please click here.

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