Work on the W7-X has resulted in a doubling in heating power and 40 new diagnostics. IPP said that within a few years the upgraded fusion facility should enable plasma operations lasting for up to 30 minutes.
One of the key improvements is the fitting of a new water-cooled divertor, or high-heat flux divertor, a component that helps prevent the contamination of the plasma.
Fusion systems of the stellarator type promise high-performance plasmas in continuous operation. However, heat and particles from the hot plasma permanently stress the vessel walls. It is the task of the divertor – a system of specially equipped baffle plates to which the particles from the edge of the plasma are magnetically directed – to regulate the interaction between plasma and wall.
Sixty kilometres of additional cables and hoses were installed, adding to the 280 km already in place.
The upgrades make the W7-X facility suitable for higher heating power and longer plasma pulses.
The W7-X is being used to investigate the suitability of such devices for power plants.
At the end of 2018, experiments using the W7-X were halted temporarily after two successful phases. Upgrade work has been continuing since then.