German fusion reactor Wendelstein 7-X, belonging to the class of stellarators, is to be launched for the first time on December 10, 2015. This decision became feasible after receiving a special permission from the German regulatory authorities. This was reported on the website of German newspaper Die Welt.
The testing of the reactor will be started with the obtaining helium plasma inside it. The plasma is planned to be hold at equilibrium state for about 1-2 sec. The same testing with hydrogen plasma will take place at the end of January, 2016. Choosing helium for this launch is caused by the fact that it is relatively much more easy to transfer it into plasma state, rather then hydrogen.
While the first phase of testing itself, scientists are going to check the work of the reactor's systems and make some troubleshooting. Upon successful completion of the second phase of the experiment, the researchers expect to keep hydrogen plasma on Wendelstein 7-X within ten seconds. The ultimate aim of the physics is to see plasma confinement for 30 minutes.
The construction and conduction of the stellarator Wendelstein 7-X is carried out by Max Planck Institute for Physics of plasma. The reactor is located in the town of Greifswald in northern Germany. The building of the installation began in 2005 and lasted till 2014. The cost of the construction exceeds 370 million euros.
Stellarator Wendelstein 7-X consists of 70 superconducting coils weighing more than 725 tons, capable of creating a magnetic field that keeps the plasma with a temperature of up to one hundred million degrees Celsius (this is seven times higher than the temperature in the center of the solar core).
Today in the world there are only two promising projects of fusion reactors: the tokamak and the stellarator. In both of them plasma is confined by the magnetic field. In the tokamak it has the shape of a toroidal cord through which electric current is passed, and in the stellarator magnetic field is induced by external coils.
In fusion reactors, synthesis formation of heavy elements from the lighter ones (helium from hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium e.g., ) occurs, in contrast to the conventional nuclear reactors, where the process of decay of heavy nuclei into lighter ones take place.
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