Candidate fusion materials to be investigated at Magnum-PSI
On 8 June, the relocated Magnum-PSI experiment produced its first plasma. Magnum-PSI is the only device in the world which can reach and exceed the plasma conditions expected on ITER in order to test candidate wall materials for fusion devices. Photo: Bram Lamers / DIFFER
At the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research (DIFFER), the unique experiment Magnum-PSI has produced the first plasma following relocation—a major milestone that opens the way to full scientific operation by the end of the year. Magnum-PSI is the only laboratory setup in the world capable of investigating candidate materials under the realistic conditions for future fusion experiments like ITER.
Fusion research aims to turn the process which powers the Sun into a clean, safe and sustainable energy source on Earth.
Which materials and designs can handle the harsh conditions of a fusion power plant is still an open question. In ITER, the wall of the exhaust needs to withstand punishing heat loads of 10-20 MW/m2 while being bombarded with 10^24 charged particles/m2 every second, as well as short outbursts from the plasma up to 1000 MW/m2. Magnum-PSI is the only device in the world which can reach and exceed those plasma conditions to test candidate wall materials.
The main facility in DIFFER's Plasma Surface Interactions laboratory is Magnum-PSI, a linear plasma generator equipped with a superconducting magnet to allow for continuous exposure. Photo: Bram Lamers / DIFFER
The first plasma following relocation, achieved on 8 June, is a real accomplishment according to a press release issued by the institute this month requiring many different systems (the plasma source, vacuum pumps, cooling systems and data acquisition, control) to come on line. In the next months the Magnum-PSI team will install diagnostics to monitor plasma conditions and target materials. The experiment will also be connected to the new Ion Beam Facility
for (sub)surface materials research that DIFFER is building up.
At its new site, Magnum-PSI is undergoing a major upgrade, with a superconducting magnet system replacing conventional pulsed electromagnets. "This superconducting magnet will allow for truly long term exposure of materials to the plasma," says Hans van Eck, head of fusion facilities at DIFFER. This will enable the world's first experiments on how material properties evolve during the long timescales expected in ITER.
In its 2.5 year run of experiments previous to DIFFER's relocation, Magnum-PSI has already produced
exciting results for the fusion community and beyond.
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