Research & Development

Nuclear Fusion / Germany’s Improved W7-X Stellarator To Resume Experiments This Autumn

By David Dalton
23 September 2022

Upgrades include fitting of new water-cooled divertor
Germany’s Improved W7-X Stellarator To Resume Experiments This Autumn
A view into the plasma vessel of the W7-X stellarator. Courtesy IPP.
The Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) stellarator at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald, northeast Germany, has been significantly improved and will resume scientific experiments in autumn 2022.

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.

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