Posted on: 2nd February 2016
Perhaps, it may be fair to say that Wendelstein 7-X has put the little German college town of Greifswald in the spotlight. The Greifswald campus of EUROfusion consortium member Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics is home to the stellarator Wendelstein 7-X, and it is set for some high-profile action. On 3 February 2016, the device will have its first hydrogen plasma discharge after it began operations in December 2015. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be on site to see the stellarator fire up the hydrogen plasma.
A fascinating outcome of meticulous engineering and fusion research, Wendelstein 7-X is the world’s largest stellarator, and it carries on from where its predecessor Wendelstein 7-AS, the first “Advanced Stellarator,” left off in 2002. With its twisting coils and sophisticated machinery, Wendelstein 7-X will confine plasma with temperatures of up to 100 million degrees and discharges lasting up to 30 minutes, and will be key to investigating a stellarator’s suitability as possible design for a future fusion power plant.
So, why is a hydrogen plasma discharge so important in the Wendelstein 7-X context? José García Regaña, EUROfusion’s responsible officer for Preparation and Exploitation of Wendelstein 7-X and Stellarator Optimisation explains that the knowledge about hydrogen plasma behaviour, understanding its interaction with the plasma facing components and the vessel, and good confinement properties needs to be guaranteed and studied. Wendelstein 7-X, which is one of the devices that contributes to European fusion research carried out under the EUROfusion aegis, aims to demonstrate that an optimized confinement by a careful design of the magnetic field and plasma shape is possible, and that the plasma can be sustained under steady state conditions.
The first hydrogen plasma discharge event is set to be streamed live from Greifswald on 3 February 2016 so everyone can tune into the action!