Why don’t we have plasma power?

Jon Lawson

MIT spin-off Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) is working with the university to address the obstacles to fusion power. The team has just published a handful of papers which they hope will convince people that a reactor could be made a reality. 

The next step is to build the world's first system that proves the theories. They are calling it SPARC, and they hope it will be able to generate more fusion power than used to start and sustain the process. 

CFS CEO Bob Mumgaard, PhD said, “These are concrete public predictions that when we build SPARC, the machine will produce net energy and even high gain fusion from the plasma. That is a necessary condition to build a fusion power plant for which the world has been waiting for decades. The combination of established plasma physics, new innovative magnets, and reduced scale opens new possibilities for commercial fusion energy in time to make a difference for climate change. This is a major milestone for the company and for the global clean-tech effort as we work to get commercial fusion energy on the grid as fast as possible.”

The team are about to embark on the construction of a 20 Tesla large-bore high temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets, due in 2021. After testing and completion they hope to fire it up by 2025. They predict that SPARC will very likely achieve burning plasma for the first time, meaning the fusion process will be dominantly self-heating. 

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