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Newly Discovered Plasma Confinement State Could Help With Achieving Fusion Energy • Mirror Daily

Representation of what a quantum computer could look like.

(Mirror Daily, United States) – Newly discovered plasma confinement state could help with achieving fusion energy according to research. The new state of plasma has been named Super H-mode and it is achieved by raising the pressure on the edges of the plasma more than it was thought to be possible, leading to an opportunity to increase the amount of power generated by the plasma’s very hot core.

The new process is called Tokamak confinement and the discovery of the new plasma state could lead to major advances in the future performance of fusion reactors as it has opened a new path of research on plasma physics which could define other ways of achieving higher power by using fusion energy.

The find is particularly encouraging for the ITER project, which is an international collaboration aimed at creating an experimental fusion energy reactor. The ITER, which stands for  International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor is working on designing the experimental reactor based on the Tokamak concept, the same one used in the discovery of the new plasma state.

The Tokamak confinement is based on the concept of magnetic confinement in which plasma is contained in a vacuum container in the shape of a doughnut. Powerful magnetic fields are used to keep the plasma separated from the walls of the container. These magnetic fields are generated by using superconducting coils placed around the container and by driving electrical current through the plasma itself, according to an explanation found on the ITER website.

ITER’s current research facility on fusion energy is being developed in France with the help of international teams of scientists which are collaborating on the project. A total of 35 nations, including the U.S. and China, are working together in order to help fund and further the research and the recent discovery of the new plasma state is an encouraging step in that direction.

The amounts of plasma found in confined areas are known as magnetic islands and have some unique qualities, in that they do not show a temperature incline, which in turn leads to turbulence within these islands. If this turbulence eventually rises outside of the islands, where a temperature incline does exist, it does move into the islands in the end.

This is important as the intensity of this turbulence is the determining factor in the confinement state of these magnetic islands. Managing to improve the confinement state of these plasma islands is what will lead to developing ways of working with fusion plasma in the future and will eventually open new avenues of research for fusion energy models.

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