MIT Reveals Plan for Compact Fusion Reactor

An article on the MIT News website announces a new design for a ‘compact tokamak’ nuclear fusion reactor designed at the Plasma Science and Fusion Center at MIT. The reduction in size is said to be made possible by employing advanced superconducting technology that will allow for stronger magnetic fields to contain the super-hot plasma needed in for fusion to take place.

The proposed reactor has half the diameter of the larger tokamak under construction at the ITER project in France, which would make it less that 10 m (compared to ITER’s 19.4 external diameter). According to the article the reactor will be able to produce at least three times as much electricity as is needed to keep it running, and design improvements could allow that to improve to up to six times.

Image source: MIT News

It is projected that this reactor, which is designed to be used for basic research into fusion energy, and be a potential pototype for a power plant, will be completed in about a decade.

It sounds like this could be an advance for the field of hot fusion, but to my mind it would seem to be far more complex and expensive to build than the E-Cat reactors of Rossi. It will be interesting to see what might happen to the large hot fusion projects if the E-Cat makes it into the commercial realm. Maybe they will adapt their research programs in the light of a new technology, but I think it will be much harder for these projects to justify their claims for large amounts of public funding if a commercial entity is able to produce power much more cheaply, and bring working reactors into the marketplace.

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