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MIT Breaks a World Record For Nuclear Fusion



Bob Mumgaard/Plasma Science and Fusion Center

Scientists working at MIT’s Alcator C-Mod experimental fusion reactor have broken the world record for fusion pressure. This achievement came on the day the reactor was scheduled to be shut down.

Nuclear fusion power has long been sought as an alternative to current energy sources, but the extreme conditions required for it to work have made efficient fusion power impossible to obtain. Fusion reactions are the power source that fuels the Sun, and the only way fusion power can reliably work is in high-pressure and high-temperature environments like the Sun’s core. MIT’s Alcator C-Mod experiment was an attempt to create those conditions in a laboratory.

Recently, the experiment succeeded, generating two atmospheres of plasma pressure. This pressure brought the plasma to a temperature of 35 million degrees Celsius, close to the threshold of 50 million needed for commercial fusion power.

MIT’s reactor has been performing fusion experiments for more than 23 years, but due to budget cuts it was shut down a few weeks ago, on September 23.

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