British private nuclear fusion technology breakthrough, ST40 reactor temperature reaches 100 million degrees Celsius

Tokamak Energy, a British private nuclear fusion company, has reached a new milestone. The temperature of the spherical tokamak ST-40 reactor successfully exceeded 100 million degrees Celsius, crossing one of the thresholds for commercial nuclear fusion.

Nuclear fusion technology mainly fuses hydrogen atoms into heavier atoms under high temperature and high pressure, and captures the huge energy generated in the process. The principle is relatively simple, but the practice is very difficult. It can be said to be a distant dream. It is hoped that the progress of nuclear fusion research will be accelerated, and that it will bring nearly infinite, clean and huge energy to the society, and ultimately change the energy market.

In fact, many state-run reactors have reached a high temperature of over 100 million degrees Celsius. However, in terms of investment amount, the cost of Tokamak Energy ST-40 is only 50 million pounds. Although it is not known how long ST-40 can maintain 100 million degrees, But being able to reach a similar milestone at a lower cost is a remarkable achievement.

Among them, the ST-40 reactor is different from the traditional tokamak that looks like a big donut and the star simulator like a hair ring. Tokamak Energy adopts a more compact spherical design, claiming that its electric The plasma pressure is higher than in conventional tokamak devices, and high-temperature superconducting magnets can be used to control the plasma, which is then converted into usable energy.

ST40 mainly uses high temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets made of rare-earth Barium Copper Oxide (REBCO), forming narrow strips with a thickness of less than 0.1mm. The operating temperature of these high temperature magnets is between -250 and -200 degrees Celsius, which is similar to the temperature of liquid nitrogen, thus saving a lot of cooling costs.

It’s just that although the design of the spherical reactor is smaller and simpler, the plasma is more stable in the nuclear fusion reaction process, but compared with the traditional tokamak, the total pressure of the reactor is smaller, and the central pillar is easily affected by the plasma decay, requiring regular replace. Tokamak Energy is also currently developing a more advanced reactor ST-HTS, which is expected to be operational within a few years and hopes to be the cornerstone of the first commercial power plant in the 2030s.

Chris Kelsall, CEO of Tokamak Energy, said: “We are proud of this breakthrough, a step towards a new and safe carbon-free energy source. The team’s HTS magnet paired with a spherical tokamak is the best way to achieve clean and low-cost commercial nuclear fusion energy.

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