Federal Chancellor switches plasma on – Start of scientific experimentation
The Wendelstein 7-X fusion device at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald produced its first hydrogen plasma on 3 February 2016. This marks the start of scientific operation. Wendelstein 7-X, the world’s largest fusion device of the stellarator type, is to investigate this configuration’s suitability for use in a power plant.
Since the start of operation on 10 December 2015 Wendelstein 7-X has produced more than 300 discharges with the rare gas helium. These served primarily to clean the plasma vessel. The cleaner the vessel wall, higher the plasma temperature, finally reaching six million degrees. In addition, plasma heating and data recording were tested, and the first measuring facilities for investigating the plasma were put into operation, including complex instrumentation such as X-ray spectrometers, interferometers, laser scattering and video diagnostics.
“This makes everything ready for the next step”, states Project Head Professor Dr. Thomas Klinger. “We are changing from helium to hydrogen plasmas, our proper subject of investigation.”
The first hydrogen plasma, which was created on 3 February 2016 at a ceremony attended by numerous guests from the realms of science and politics, marks the start of scientific operation of Wendelstein 7-X. At the push of a button by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, a 2-megawatt pulse of microwave heating transformed a tiny quantity of hydrogen gas into an extremely hot low-density hydrogen plasma. This entails separation of the electrons from the nuclei of the hydrogen atoms.
Confined in the magnetic cage generated by Wendelstein 7-X, the charged particles levitate without making contact with the walls of the plasma chamber. “With a temperature of 80 million degrees and a lifetime of a quarter of a second, the device’s first hydrogen plasma has completely lived up to our expectations”, states Dr. Hans-Stephan Bosch.
The full text is available at http://www.ipp.mpg.de/4010154/02_16
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