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Thursday, January 19, 2012

NSTX fusion project

"DOE's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) is getting an earlier-than-expected start on a $94 million, nearly three-year project as the next stage of its mission to chart an attractive course for the development of nuclear fusion as a clean, safe and abundant fuel for generating electricity.
NSTXThe project will upgrade the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) facility at PPPL, over the next 30 months, with completion slated for 2014. The work will enhance the position of the NSTX as the world’s most powerful spherical torus – or tokamak – a device that controls the superheated and electrically charged gases called plasmas that create fusion power."


Fusion energy is when atomic nuclei in plasmas combine at extremely high temperatures and release a burst of energy. Such reactions happens in the stars. But sustaining fusion in the laboratory has proven quite difficult because plasmas that leak from the confinement can halt the reaction. Controlling the plasma is thus a basic goal of fusion research.

ITER aims to produce a sustained fusion reaction in 2020s that will put out ten more energy than is needed to create it.
The NSTX (website) upgrade could also help determine the path to a possible next-generation spherical torus that would produce a burning plasma to complement the output of ITER.
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