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Mar 15, 2020

Fusion Energy Solution May Come From Permanent Magnets Like Those on Refrigerator Doors – But Far Stronger

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Permanent magnets akin to those used on refrigerators could speed the development of fusion energy – the same energy produced by the sun and stars.

In principle, such magnets can greatly simplify the design and production of twisty fusion facilities called stellarators, according to scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Greifswald, Germany. PPPL founder Lyman Spitzer Jr. invented the stellarator in the early 1950s.

Most stellarators use a set of complex twisted coils that spiral like stripes on a candy cane to produce magnetic fields that shape and control the plasma that fuels fusion reactions. Refrigerator-like permanent magnets could produce the hard part of these essential fields, the researchers say, allowing simple, non-twisted coils to produce the remaining part in place of the complex coils.

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