The technique lets scientists do away with a reactor's central magnet.
Scientists from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory say that they've found a new way to start up nuclear fusion reactions.
The new technique, described in research published last month in the journal Physics of Plasmas, provides an alternate means for reactors to convert gas into the superhot plasma that gets fusion reactions going with less equipment taking up valuable lab space — another step in the long road to practical fusion power.
Out With The Old
Right in the center of a tokamak, a common type of experimental nuclear fusion reactor, there's a large central magnet that helps generate plasma. The new technique, called "transient coaxial helical injection," does away with the magnet but still generates a stable reaction, freeing up the space taken up by the magnet for other equipment.
"The good news from this study," Max Planck Institute researcher Kenneth Hammond said in a press release, "is that the projections for startup in large-scale devices look promising."
READ MORE: Ready, set, go: Scientists evaluate novel technique for firing up fusion-reaction fuel [Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory newsroom via ScienceDaily]
More on nuclear fusion: Scientists Found a New Way to Make Fusion Reactors More Efficient