New German-Russian Cooperation In Fusion Power Research

The German nuclear research center in Jülich and Russian research at the Budker Center in Novosibirsk have signed a cooperation agreement for the joint construction of a special facility to produce polarized deuterium fuel from unpolarized deuterium. This will generate pre-ordered “nuclear spins” — alignments of the deuterium atoms — for fusion power experiments involving both deuterium and helium fuel. The joint project is funded by the German Research Association DFG and the Russian Science Foundation (RSF).

Departing from traditional generation of pre-ordered spins from already-polarized deuterium, the Russian scientists and engineers will contribute a specific magnetic field configuration, which will pre-order the isotope spins already during the polarization process. This enables the desired spins be more easily filtered out and, in the same process, separated from the spin alignments not wanted for the experiment.

Why? The efficiency of the fusion power reaction is considerably higher with completely polarized fuel than with the traditional method. It gives a larger “cross-section” to the reaction which combines the atoms of deuterium and/or helium, at extremely high temperatures and pressures produced by magnets or lasers.

The reaction is thus longer-lasting — one major goal of fusion power development — and the energy and particles produced can be directed magnetically for technological purposes.

The configuration design for polarizing the deuterium fuel comes from the Russian center. The German contribution will be the construction of four Lamb Shift Polarimeters from the Juelich center. There are only five of these worldwide at this point, so Jülich will take a global lead in this kind of research. Related research teams at the Universities of Düsseldorf and Darmstadt are part of the effort.

The key for German fusion power testing is the availability of this polarized fuel for the national fusion research center in Greifswald—an advanced magnetic fusion confinement design known as a stellerator. In early February, Greifswald, with unpolarized fuel, achieved 80 million degrees Fahrenheit temperature for one-quarter of a second of complete confinement of the fusion plasma by the magnetic fields.

But then in late February, China’s tokamak magnetic confinement design — the Experiment Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) — achieved 90 million degrees for 100 seconds of confinement!

The combination of polarized fuel and stellerator design was widely discussed and described in Lyndon LaRouche’s Fusion magazine 35 years ago, as key to achieving fusion power.

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