A team of researchers from MIT and other institutions say that their compact fusion reactor “SPARC” should work – at least theoretically, as they claim in a series of recently launched research papers.
In a total of seven papers written by 47 researchers from 12 institutions, the team claims that there were no unexpected impediments or surprises during the planning stages.
In other words, the research “confirms that it is very likely that the design we are working on will work”, told the New York Times Martin Greenwald, director adjunct al MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center.
What does this step entail?
Fusion power remains elusive, but technology promises to one day become a safe and clean way to produce energy by fusing atomic nuclei just like the Sun. Despite almost a century of research, however, no one has managed to produce it yet.
SPARC, one of the largest privately funded projects of its kind in the field, would be a first of its kind: a reactor with “burning plasma” that fuses hydrogen isotopes to form helium, without the need for other energy.
Due to the progress made in the field of superconducting magnets, the team hopes to achieve the same performance as in the case of much larger reactors, such as the giant reactor ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor), which began assembly in July.
According to the team’s calculations, SPARC should be able to produce twice as much fusion energy compared to the amount needed to generate the reaction.
“What we are trying to do is put the project on the strongest physical basis possible so that we are confident in how it will work, and then provide guidance and answer questions for the design of the engineers as it unfolds. Greenwald said inan official statement.
The MIT team hopes to build its compact reactor in the next three to four years, with the ultimate goal of generating electricity by 2035, reports the Times.