New research reactor wendelstein 7-x goes into operation

The energy and climate weekend: from expensive future music, thick concrete walls, round tables and non-paying energy companies

On Wednesday, the fusion research reactor Wendelstein 7-X goes into operation in the pre-pomer’s gripping forest. For many decades, scientists, consolidated managers and technicians have been able to use the merger of hydrogen as an energy source. So far in vain.

The Wendelstein project is pursued since the 1950s. In nuclear fusion reactors, a 100 to 150 million degrees of hot plasma is generated from hydrogen. Under these conditions, the electrons separate from the atomic nuclei. If the current density is achieved, it comes to a self-preserving fusion process. The atomic nuclei merge to helium, with gross amounts of energy being released. However, this point could not be achieved in any of the test reactors built since the 1960s.

The first hydrogen plasma in Wendelstein 7-X. It took a quarter of a second and achieved – with moderate plasma density – a temperature of around 80 million degrees Celsius. (Fixed black and white photo). Image: iPP

The heater plasma must be enclosed by a magnetic field. In most arrangements, a part of this field is generated by Strome in the plasma. In Greifswald, however, an alternative concept, a so-called stellarator, is used, in which the magnetic field is generated completely from outside. First, it had been tried to build the experimental reactor with EU funds and international participation. Finally, in Greifswald, a Derelang of the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics was founded.

With the institute construction and the preparatory work for the reactor was started in 1997. Since 2004 there are around 480 employees with the construction of the Wendelstein 7-X. The costs have been more than doubled by the originated 500 million euros more than doubled, wrote the Spring Leaf last year "world". (Imagine that with a billion euros in the structurally weak region everything had to be totally.To)

There are also concerns about security. Also in a fusion reactor, there is a hazardous radiation. On the one hand, the electrons emit in the plasma ray radiation, which can be relatively easily shielded. On the other hand, neutrons are released, which are already much dangerable. This happens especially if the hydrogen isotope of deuterium and tritium are taken as a working gas. Deuterium has next to the proton a neutron in the atomic nucleus, tritium two. When two such cores fused to a helium core, the neutrons are released.

In Greifswald, however, this should only be done in the limited habe, here you first want to take only normal hydrogen, which has no neutrons in the atomic nucleus. Only now and then do you want to try tests with Deuterium. A 1.8-meter concrete wall should capture neutrons and prevent escape into the environment. However, the neutron bombardment can lead to radioactive decomposition processes in some components of the installed steel. According to Wikipedia, therefore, special steel grades were used to minimize this risk.

New research reactor Wendelstein 7-X goes into operation

View inside the stellarator. Image: Gwurden / CC-BY-3.0

The federal government and nature conservation spoke in 2012, however, that concrete and steel were faulty composed. In addition, there are problems with the shielding on the hall gate of the reactor as well as its roof. The federal government threw the state-of-the-art Ministry of Social Affairs in Schwerin to know the lack of knowledge, but the safety of the system must be checked only in the operating condition.

According to the Max Planck Institute, according to these, an independent reviewer expressed the radiation protection calculations and the construction and had the conclusion that the provisions of radiation protection have been adhered to. According to the institute, the radiation to be denied outside the reactor building "Far under the natural background radiation" lie. Otherwise, in the first years, only with light hydrogen is being worked on, so no neutrons can be released. First later you want to use Deuterium.

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