Scientists are hoping a new upgrade at U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) could finally make fusion power a reality — by harnessing the power of a silvery metal called lithium.
As part of the Lithium Tokamak Experiment, a team of researchers are coating the inside walls of the reactor with lithium, the same stuff in the batteries in a wide range of electronics, to ensure that plasma remains super hot and highly pressurized inside the reactor — important conditions to get a shot at generating power from the reaction.
The researchers observed that the lithium covering the reactor’s walls absorbed stray plasma particles and stopped them from bouncing back in, cooling down the reaction.
“The machine is now ready to exploit the full capability of the upgrade,” said Phil Efthimion, head of PPPL’s Plasma Science and Technology unit, in a press release.
Upcoming experiments will test if the upgraded reactor can maintain even hotter plasmas with stronger magnetic fields.
The fusion energy sector is really heating up as of late. Many private companies are turning their attention towards achieving fusion energy as well.
READ MORE: Machine set to see if lithium can help bring fusion to Earth [Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory]
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