Launch of National Spherical Torus Experiment Upgrade at Princeton

NSTX exterior.

Last Friday, 20 May 2016, was a historic day at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).  It was a day that the $94-million upgrade to National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX-U), which took almost four years to build, was officially launched by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Funded by the DOE Office of Science, NSTX-U addresses how to create fusion, the process that powers the Sun, on Earth, in a device based on the spherical tokamak concept.

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Did you know this about plasma?

Ten things you may not know about the plasma:

  1. It’s the fourth state of matter: Solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. Plasma is a super-heated gas, so hot that its electrons get out of the atom’s orbit and roam free. A gas thus becomes a plasma when extreme heat causes its atoms to shed their electrons.
  2. It’s everywhere. Plasma is the most abundant form of visible matter in the universe – it is thought to make up 99 percent of what we see in the night sky. Plasma populates and dominates the vast regions of interstellar and interplanetary space.
  3. Stars, like the sun, are gigantic balls of plasma. And there are billions of them, so studying plasma can help us understand the cosmos.

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Unknown Wealthy Funding of Fusion

Device developed at General Fusion | Photo: Dominic Schaefer

The quest for Fusion Energy has been approached through decades in different manners. Most of the contributions are done by the governmental sector, National Laboratories and Universities given that its duration is expected to be long and therefore not so well suited for normal investors.

This scenario has recently started to change with the Venture Capital, where investors are free to speculate in high-risk and high-compensation projects, as explained by BBC Future its recent article.

Read moreUnknown Wealthy Funding of Fusion

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