A milestone has been reached by German scientists at Greifswald’s Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP). The German project Stellarator, which was using the Wendelstein 7-X machine in an attempt to find cheap, safe and limitless energy source derived from nuclear fusion, has been able to produce super-heated helium plasma briefly inside a vessel, similar to how the sun generates energy. This marks the end of a nearly two-decade project, which cost $1.5 billion.

“We’re very satisfied. Everything went according to plan,” said Hans-Stephan Bosch, scientist at the IPP, on Thursday, Sky News reports.

To generate energy, nuclear fission, as opposed to nuclear fusion, is a process where atoms are split. Issues on long-term waste and safety have been raised against it. In nuclear fusion, meanwhile, two atoms are fused by a nuclear fusion reactor to generate energy. However, the process has mostly remained elusive and not at all cost-effective.

Finally though, a breakthrough has been achieved after nine years’ of construction work and spending billions of Euros and undying efforts of the scientists. They have reached a vital point in the experimental process, Tech Times reports.

The idea behind the project was to subject atoms to extremely high temperatures, more than 100 million degrees, so that nuclei combine and fuse together. Tokamak, a magnetic confinement device, was also used in the nuclear fusion experiments. It is the only machine that is known to produce plasma that is capable of supplying energy.

Both Tokamak and Wendelstein 7-X can be used jointly to enhance energy from hydrogen isotope fusion that can provide resourceful and safe electrical power. Next year, scientists look forward to using hydrogen and not helium, which they did in the experiment. The researchers will try and extend the plasma duration and also find the best way to produce it.

According to News.com.au, the plasma produced from one milligramme of helium gas in Wendelstein 7-X’s 16-metre-wide machine lasted one-tenth of a second. It was heated by a 1.8-megawatt laser pulse, and it reached temperatures as high as one million degrees.

Source: YouTube/Ruptly TV

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