A COLD fusion machine aimed at creating limitless supplies of energy from a few litres of seawater has been fired-up and is working exactly as the designers hoped.
The mind-bogglingly complex “star-chamber” called the Wendelstein 7-X creates clean, radiation-free nuclear energy by mimicking what happens in stars like our own sun.
Cold fusion – based on safe nuclear fusion rather than the dangerous nuclear fusion of the world’s current reactors has been the dream of physicists since the 1950s. But the technique is so fiendishly complex and the conditions so difficult to recreate that many wrote it off as a pipe dream. But the experimental Wendelstein 7-X – one of the most complex machines ever designed – is working perfefctly according to a new study.
The Wendelstein 7-X uses a machine with the fabulously science fiction name – a stellarator.
It confines super-heated helium – in plasma form – to spark reactions in twisted three dimensional magnetic fields.
Sam Lazerson, a physicist at the US Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) in New Jersey, said: “This is a significant step forward in stellarator research since it shows that the complicated and delicate magnetic topology can be created and verified with the required accuracy.”
The findings, the researchers added in a press release, could be “a key step toward verifying the feasibility of stellarators as models for future fusion reactors.” The Wendelstein 7-X which is five meters across and in a laboratory in Germany was originally designed as a proof-of-concept. It has now been shown conclusively to work. And the developers can now focus on creating new designs that improve the efficiency of the device.