A key milestone in the field of nuclear fusion is bringing the reality of a world of carbon-free power one step closer. The new superconducting magnet has broken magnetic field strength records, which paves the way for a more practical, commercialized, and carbon-free power.
This large superconducting magnet called SPARC is dubbed as the strongest fusion magnet in the world. It was built and designed by Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) and MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC).
A Step Closer to a Fusion Power Plant
On September 5, 2021, a large high-temperature superconducting electromagnet has reached a field strength of 20 teslas for the first time, breaking records of magnetic field strength. To date, this is the most powerful magnetic field of its kind ever created, according to MIT News.
MIT and startup company CFS said that the successful display of the magnet helps resolve the uncertainty of building the first fusion power plant in the world that can produce more energy than it consumes. Also, it paves the way for the long-sought-after creation of practical, inexpensive carbon-free power plants that will hopefully limit the effects of global warming.
MIT's vice president for research Maria Zuber emphasized that fusion is the ultimate energy source and a real game-changer. "We just have to figure out how to utilize it," she said in a statement referring to creating fusion energy from water.
The superconducting magnet is seen as a technological hurdle that made it happen because successfully operating it opens a new door to demonstrate fusion in a lab on Earth, something that scientists have tried to accomplish for decades but with limited success.
MIT-CFS collaboration is now on track to building the world's first fusion device and fusion power plant that will produce carbon-free energy. The fusion device they are referring to is the SPARC, which they target to finish by 2025.
Building a Commercial Fusion Energy Campus
According to Interesting Engineering, CFS has announced earlier this year its plans to build a 47-acre commercial fusion energy campus in Devens, Massachusetts, that will serve as the birthplace of the commercial fusion energy industry where the compact fusion device SPARC will be located.
Moreover, the company's corporate offices and manufacturing facility will also be located on the campus. CFS CEO Bob Mumgaard said that this campus marks an important milestone to commercialize fusion power and help fight climate change as this will be the place where they will harness fusion energy and prove it can work as a carbon-free power source for the first time.
CFS said in their statement that the construction on the campus is expected to cost about $300 million during its first phase that began in the spring of this year. They pointed out that advances in nuclear fusion promise a future of cleaner energy sources with only a tiny fraction of radioactive waste compared to the traditional nuclear power plants.
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