Energy like the stars…

StellaratorLead1280x720

Germany fired up the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator for the first time on December 10.

What on God’s good earth is a Stellarator you say?  Well, if you don’t know what a Tokamak is, then don’t bother.

Oh Google it for fuck’s sake.

Fine, I’ll do it…

tokamak (Russianтокамак) is a device using a magnetic field to confine a plasma in the shape of a torus.

…The tokamak is one of several types of magnetic confinement devices, and is one of the most-researched candidates for producing controlled thermo nuclear fusion power. Magnetic fields are used for confinement since no solid material could withstand the extremely high temperature of the plasma. An alternative to the tokamak is the stellarator.

Anyway, back to the stellarator:

The €1 billion machine, known as Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X), appears now as a 16-meter-wide ring of gleaming metal bristling with devices of all shapes and sizes, innumerable cables trailing off to unknown destinations, and technicians tinkering with it here and there. It looks a bit like Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon, towed in for repairs after a run-in with the Imperial fleet. Inside are 50 6-tonne magnet coils, strangely twisted as if trampled by an angry giant.

Ooooh, the geek in me is in full flight.  But seriously…

If W7-X matches or beats the performance of a similarly sized tokamak, fusion researchers may have to reassess the future course of their field. “Tokamak people are waiting to see what happens. There’s an excitement around the world about W7-X,” says engineer David Anderson of the University of Wisconsin (UW), Madison.

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