Researchers have made a new world record for plasma pressure in fusion reaction. Plasma pressure is the 'key ingredient' for generating energy from nuclear fusion. This new record means that the clean and viable energy source is way closer to reality than ever before. The new record stands at 2.05 atmospheres - a 15% increment over the earlier record of 1.77 atmospheres. This new record and the last one were set at the custom-built Alcator C-Mod reactor located at MIT.
These new records are more proof that we're getting closer to a reactor that's industrially and economically viable. This also provides researchers more hints about how best to move forward. Physicist Dale Meade of Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory said:
This is a remarkable achievement that highlights the highly successful Alcator C-Mod program at MIT. The record plasma pressure validates the high-magnetic-field approach as an attractive path to practical fusion energy.
To reach this new record, MIT scientists turned the reactor up to 35 million degrees Celsius (63 million degrees Fahrenheit) – this is over twice as hot as the Sun's core - containing plasma, generating 300 trillion fusion reactions per second for 2 seconds.
There are three variables in a fusion reactor - temperature, pressure, and time sustained. All three are important but plasma pressure is vital to the overall energy generated, that’s the reason why the MIT team is so motivated. According to the team, pressure levels are "two-thirds of the challenge" of generating nuclear fusion reactions.
The MIT scientists are offering the outcomes of their record-breaking experiments at the International Atomic Energy Agency Fusion Energy Conference this month. They'll also be hosting a Reddit AMA on October 20, so if you got any questions you can ask them there.