Angela Merkel starts first Hydrogen plasma of Wendelstein 7-X
The Wendelstein 7-X stellarator at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald produced its first hydrogen plasma on February 3, 2016. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed the button.
Today's plasma was not the first one in Wendelstein 7-X. Since the start of operation on 10 December 2015 Wendelstein 7-X has produced more than 300 discharges with the rare gas, helium. These served primarily to clean the plasma vessel, and allowed for testing of all the diagnostics. As everything worked properly, it was time to change from helium to the actual subject of investigation: hydrogen.
Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in the control room of W7-X
pushing the button which started the first hydrogen plasma [IPP]
By pushing the button, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel started the count-down towards a 2-megawatt pulse of microwave heating which transformed a tiny quantity of hydrogen gas into an extremely hot low-density hydrogen plasma. "With a temperature of 80 million degrees and a lifetime of a quarter of a second, the device’s first hydrogen plasma has completely lived up to our expectations", states Dr. Hans-Stephan Bosch, whose division is responsible for operation of Wendelstein 7-X.
The first hydrogen plasma in W7-X on February 3, 2016. [IPP]
The current experimentation phase will last until mid-March. Then, the plasma vessel will be opened so carbon tiles and a divertor will be installed. These will allow the German scientists to move towards longer discharges, with higher power and temperatures. In about four years from now, Wendelstein 7-X will be able to produce discharges of about 30 minutes and it can then be checked if it achieves its optimisation targets.
For more information about W7-X, read one of the following articles: