US engineers are preparing to ship the first part of the world’s most powerful magnets to France. In France, it helps to supply state-of-the-art electricity. Nuclear fusion Reactor.
The magnet, known as the central solenoid, forms the heart of the world’s largest fusion reactor, ITER, which means “road” in Latin. This international experiment covers 35 countries and aims to prove the feasibility of sustainable fusion to generate energy. In nuclear fusion atom Fused to create something bigger — a reaction that releases a huge amount of energy.
When fully assembled, the central solenoid is 59 feet (18 meters) high and 14 feet (4.3 m) wide. magnetic field 13 Tesla measurements — about 280,000 times stronger EarthMagnetic Field — Strong enough to lift an entire aircraft carrier weighing approximately 100,000 tonnes (90,700 metric tonnes).
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“The central solenoid is the largest and most powerful pulsed electromagnet ever built,” John Smith, director of engineering and projects at General Atomic, which manufactures magnets, told Live Science.
The central solenoid consists of six separate modules stacked in the center of the ITER reactor. The total height of the magnet is the same as that of a four-story building, and it weighs 1,000 tons (907 metric tons).
Each module is basically a large coil containing a steel jacket of about 3.5 miles (5.6 km). niobium—tin Superconducting cable. The module is then heat treated in a large furnace for several weeks to further increase conductivity, then insulate the cable and wind the coil into its final shape.
by Faraday’s Law of Guidance, The electricity that passes through the wire creates a magnetic field perpendicular to the wire. When the wire is wound in a circle, the current creates a circular magnetic field, and each coil amplifies the strength of the magnetic field. Therefore, the solenoid is created by winding the wire many times. The simplest version of the solenoid is a classic classroom experiment in which a student wraps a wire around a nail and attaches it to a battery. When the battery is turned on, the coil can pick up the paper clip.
However, the size and superconducting nature of the central solenoid means that much more current can pass through it, allowing it to generate a stronger magnetic field than previously constructed.
The heart of ITER
The central solenoid is the “beating heart” of the ITER reactor, allowing scientists to control the normally unstable reactants of fusion.
ITER is designed to release small amounts of vaporized deuterium and tritium. hydrogen Place the isotopes (or versions of the same element with different atomic weights) in a large donut-shaped vacuum chamber called a tokamak. Tokamak heats these isotopes, removes the electrons in the atoms, and converts the gas as follows: plasma.. This ultra-high temperature plasma reaches 270 million degrees Fahrenheit (150 million degrees Celsius), which is 10 times higher than the solar core. At this temperature, the atoms fuse and release a large amount of energy. This energy can be used to heat water, generate steam and spin turbines to generate electricity.
Fusion has already been achieved in several tokamak reactors dating back to the 1950s, but lasts only a few seconds at a time. For fusion to be a viable option for power generation, this reaction must be maintained at a constant rate and require less energy to produce than it does.
One of the biggest hurdles to sustained fusion is to contain and manipulate the scorching plasma in the reactor.
This is where the central solenoid works. Theoretically, the strong magnetic field it creates locks the plasma in place within the tokamak and keeps it reacting, Smith said.
The first central solenoid module, which took more than five years to build, is finally ready to be shipped to the ITER site in France.
According to Smith, engineers build and transport each module individually because the entire magnet is too large to transport safely. He added that the modules are built individually in case they need to be replaced.
The module journey begins on the road. From General Atomics’ San Diego base, you’ll travel to the Houston harbor via a giant 24-axle tractor. From there, the monster magnets will be shipped to Marseille, France in early July, arrive by late August, and then again by road to the ITER facility.
The remaining five modules and additional backup modules will follow the same route when completed in the next few years, Smith said.
Each of the 35 participating countries, including the entire European Union, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States, contributes to the project by designing and manufacturing some of one or more. One million individual reactor components.
According to engineers, the central solenoid is the largest of several contributions in the United States, accounting for about 9% of ITER’s total cost. General Atomic is developing additional technologies and components to assist in plasma manipulation, and other US companies and universities offer cooling and exhaust systems, diagnostics, instrumentation, and control, Smith said. Said.
Despite the influence of COVID-19 Pandemic For such large-scale projects, the construction of ITER is expected to be completed by 2025 and is currently about 75% complete. According to Smith, a full-scale fusion reaction will not occur until 2035 at the earliest.
Why is fusion so important?
“Fusion is one of the few potential options for large-scale carbon-free energy production,” Smith said. “It provides safe, clean, always-on resources that do not produce emissions or long-lived waste.”
In order to shut down or slow down planetary warming, wind, solar, tidal power, and other renewable energy systems, ITER needs to scale up on a large scale long before it fuses its first atoms. However, due to variability in energy output (for example, wind turbines only work when the wind is blowing), you need to rely on fossil fuels to ensure that the power grid provides reliable power. there is.
Therefore, it is imperative to achieve sustained fusion as quickly as possible and replicate the technology around the world.
“ITER is a major step in this direction and will demonstrate physics and technology on the way to fusion power plants,” Smith said.
Originally published in Live Science.
The world’s most powerful magnet begins its journey to the center of a giant fusion experiment
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