JET sets fusion record
Nov 14, 1997
The Joint European Torus (JET) has reached sixty percent of the power needed to generate fusion
Fusion experiments at the Joint European Torus (JET) fusion project in Oxfordshire, UK, are more than halfway to breakeven - the point where the power produced by the reactor equals that supplied to it. But a decision on whether the experiments should continue after 1999 has yet to be taken.
For the last six weeks, JET has been using a 50:50 mix of deuterium and tritium fuel. When the fuel is confined inside a torus by strong magnetic fields and heated to extremely high temperatures to form a plasma, the deuterium and tritium nuclei fuse to form a helium nucleus and a neutron. A small amount of mass that is lost in the reaction is converted into energy. On 22 September, JET set a new world record for fusion by achieving a 12.9 MW output - 60% of the input power. The experiments continued as Physics World went to press. "We hope to get more power, " says Martin Keilhacker, director of JET.