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Thermonuclear Record: The WEST Tokamak Held Plasma At 50 Million °C For Six Minutes

The WEST tungsten-clad tokamak reactor, operated by the French Alternative Energy and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), set a new fusion record by maintaining a hot plasma for six minutes with an input power of 1.15 GJ.

Researchers from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) took part in experiments at WEST, using X-ray detectors to measure plasma parameters. According to them, tungsten is much more difficult to work with compared to carbon, but it opens up more prospects.

Until now, no installation has been able to retain such hot plasma for such a long time. But it is the temperature and retention time that are the key parameters on the way to the practical use of thermonuclear energy. The higher the temperature and the longer it is maintained, the greater the chance of starting a self-sustaining thermonuclear reaction.

In the WEST test, researchers confirmed that the plasma has 15% more energy and twice the density than before, both conditions necessary to generate reliable power output.

Longer plasma retention in the Tore Supra rector has been previously reported. But unlike the current experiment, its walls were made of graphite. Such a reactor is easier to control, but it is more difficult to scale the technology for industrial production.

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