World’s Largest Fusion Reactor is About to Switch On 

If “The Stellarator” sounds like an energy source of comic book legend to you, you’re not that far off. It’s the largest nuclear fusion reactor in the world, and it’s set to turn on later this month.

Housed at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) stellarator looks more like a psychotic giant’s art project than the future of energy. Especially when you compare it with the reactor’s symmetrical, donut-shaped cousin, the tokamak. But stellarators and tokamaks work according to similar principles: In both cases, coiled superconductors are used to create a powerful magnetic cage, which serves to contain a gas as it’s heated to the ungodly temperatures needed for hydrogen atoms to fuse.

Stellarators are ridiculously hard to build, a fact which should be self-evident after one glance at the W7-X. Its 16 meter-wide ring is bristling with devices and cables of all shapes and sizes, including 250 access ports. The guts of the beast are no less chaotic: Fifty 6-ton magnetic coils, twisted and contorted like clocks in a Dalí. By comparison, the tokamak is an engineer’s dream.

But complexity aside, stellarators have certain qualities that make them better suited for commercial applications. Tokamaks can only be turned on for short bursts, and they’re prone to magnetic disruptions that can destabilize the entire reactor. As Science News explains in a great long-read on fusion, differences in how the magnetic fields are imposed render stellarators immune to these issues.

It took 19 full years to build W7-X. By the end of the month, approval to turn the reactor on is expected to come from Germany’s nuclear regulators. If all goes well and the stellarator is able to hold onto its heat, this crazy device could steer a new course for fusion power. Humanity’s energy future: Solar panels, wind turbines, and 300-ton miniature star cores that look like giant katamari. I kinda like it.

Source: World’s Largest Fusion Reactor is About to Switch On 

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About steventorresramos

I have over (24) years of Computer Aided Drafting & Design experience and over (16) years of IT experience. After graduating high school I attended a Technical College and earned an Associate Degree in Drafting & Design. I then enrolled at the University of Puerto Rico where I earned an A.S. in Civil Engineering Technologies. While attending the Univ. of Puerto Rico I worked as a freelance Drafter for a variety of architects and engineers. During my senior year I began to work for the firm Planning Management & Development in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Two years later I was offered the position at Mario Corsino & Associates, which later became InterGroup a medium size Civil Engineering, Architectural and Planning firm in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. At InterGroup I became assistant chief drafter where I was responsible for 20+ drafters & civil techs, and this is also where I began my IT training. In 2000 I decided to move to St. Petersburg, FL where I was hired as CAD Manager at Advanced Engineering & Design a small Civil Engineering firm established in 1998. Currently still employed by Advanced Engineering & Design I’m now the CAD/IT Manager. I have also continued to expand my knowledge base in both the IT & CADD fields through continued training, certifications, and attending Autodesk University. I’m currently an Autodesk Certified Professional proficient in AutoCAD, Civil 3D and various other Autodesk products. I have been the President of the Tampa Bay Autodesk Users Group (TBAUG) since late 2007 and a member of Autodesk Users Group International (AUGI) since 1996. I have an A.S. Degree in Computer Networking , a Bachelors of Applied Science in Technology Management and currently finishing work on my Masters in Computer Information Systems. I’m a licensed drafter in the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and a Microsoft Certified Professional. I hold certificates as a Microsoft Certified IT Professional: Server Administrator, Cisco Networking Associate Professional and Linux Administrator.
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