General Atomics Explores New Nuclear Fusion Approach

Jeff Brody

General Atomics has discovered a new approach that will help reduce the size of future nuclear fusion reactors and will potentially be a step in being able to harness great amounts of carbon energy.

Researchers from the DIII-D National Fusion Facility in San Diego noted that the Super-H operating mode helped the laboratory’s tokamak, a device that converts fuel to fusion energy, reach ion temperatures of over 30M degrees and enabled the core plasma to achieve fusion levels of more than 150M degrees, resulting in “record-breaking” fusion gain, the company said Monday.

Fusion power plants are powered by a mixture of two hydrogen chemical elements, tritium and deuterium. Tritium is created at the plant by processing lithium, which can be found in natural brine deposits, and deuterium can be extracted from seawater.

According to General Atomics, the plasmas produced by the DIII-D National Fusion Facility, which used pure deuterium fuel, will potentially produce over 4M watts of fusion power if the facility were to instead utilize a deuterium-tritium fuel mix for the venture.

“Fusion energy research historically advances with steady and marked improvements over time,” said Phil Snyder, director of theory and computational science group at General Atomics.

“It is not often you see a significant leap in results like we have seen with Super-H Mode. This discovery has significant ramifications for future fusion energy plants, and we’re excited to see how far it will carry the field forward.”

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