The JET fusion reactor set a world record for energy
Space

The JET fusion reactor set a world record for energy production, but will never start again

European thermonuclear reactor Joint European Torus (JET) in British Oxford set a new world record by the volume of energy generated in one cycle of the synthesis reaction. The installation operated for a record 6 seconds and produced 69.26 megajoules of thermal energy during this time. The new experiment became another proof that the ITER project will be successful, since the JET tokamak is a smaller copy of it.

  Inside the working chamber of a thermonuclear reactor.  Image source: Christopher Roux (CEA-IRFM)/EUROfusion

Inside the working chamber of a thermonuclear reactor. Image source: Christopher Roux (CEA-IRFM)/EUROfusion

The JET facility was built through a joint effort of several European countries 40 years ago. It became the property of the British UKAEA in October 2021, as the UK left the EU. JET ceased operation about two months ago and will be dismantled. Over the entire period, the thermonuclear reactor created over 100 thousand pulses with the launch of a thermonuclear fusion reaction.

Like the future fusion reactor of the ITER project, and the future first European fusion power plant DEMO, the JET reactor uses deuterium-tritium fuel in a 50/50 ratio. This means that all reactions in JET and methods of controlling the plasma and the shape of its bundle in the “doughnut” of the working chamber will take place in the same way, taking into account, of course, different scales. Using the JET experience, scientists have learned to create a smooth edge of plasma without disruption to the walls of the vessel, which will enable the ITER reactor to operate as stably as possible from the very first plasma.

The JET reactor has reached its limit. The plasma in its working chamber is held by ordinary electromagnets with a winding of copper wire (ITER will contain superconducting magnets). He simply will not be able to work with large energies. In his farewell experiment, he burned 0.21 mg of deuterium-tritium fuel in 6 seconds, heating the plasma to 150 million °C and generating a record amount of energy in one session. By the way, 20 times more than at the American NIF installation at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Lawrence, which European scientists mentioned in press release.

But it must be said that the JET experiment did not reach a self-sustaining thermonuclear reaction. The energy expended was much greater than that obtained during the synthesis reaction. In this regard, the Americans were ahead of the rest, although also with a lot of reservations. In general, the science of controlled thermonuclear fusion under terrestrial conditions is slowly but surely moving towards its goal – to light a man-made sun on Earth and obtain an endless source of clean energy.

About the author

Dylan Harris

Dylan Harris is fascinated by tests and reviews of computer hardware.

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