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Core of fusion device completed: Last steel seam on Wendelstein 7-X closed

Posted June 5, 2013
Precision work: One of over 250 ports being brazed in the plasma chamber. Credit: IPP, Anja Ullmann

Precision work: One of over 250 ports being brazed in the plasma chamber. Credit: IPP, Anja Ullmann

The last open seam on the steel outer cover of the Wendelstein 7-X fusion device was closed last week. The core of the research device is thus ready as basic skeleton and can go into operation at the Greifswald branch institute of Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP) in 2014.

The objective of fusion research is to derive energy from fusion of atomic nuclei, just as happens in the sun. To ignite the fusion fire, the hydrogen plasma fuel in a future power plant has to be confined in magnetic fields and heated to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees. Wendelstein 7-X, the world’s largest fusion device of the stellarator type when completed, is intended to investigate the suitability of this configuration for a power plant. With 70 large superconducting magnet coils in continuous operation it is then to produce a highly stable and thermally insulating magnetic cage confining the plasma.

The ring-shaped device is being installed as five almost structurally identical modules: Each of the five sections of the plasma vessel, along which 14 magnet coils are strung, is enclosed by a steel outer sheath, weighing altogether 120 tons. Assembled like slices of cake on the machine’s foundation, the five modules form a steel ring from which numerous connection ports protrude. These link the apertures of the plasma chamber through the coil region with the outer vessel. Later, measuring instruments, pumps and heating facilities will be affixed here.

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