Superconductor technology for smaller, sooner fusion
Scientists have long sought to harness fusion as an inexhaustible and carbon-free energy source. Within the past few years, groundbreaking high-temperature superconductor technology (HTS) sparked a new vision for achieving practical fusion energy. This approach, known as the high-field pathway to fusion, aims to generate fusion in compact devices on a shorter timescale and lower cost than alternative approaches.
A key technical challenge to realizing this vision, though, has been getting HTS superconductors to work in an integrated way in the development of new, high-performance superconducting magnets, which will enable higher magnetic fields than previous generations of magnets, and are central to confining and controlling plasma reactions.
Now a team led by MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) and MIT spinout company Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), has developed and extensively tested an HTS cable technology that can be scaled and engineered into the high-performance magnets. The team’s research was published on Oct. 7 in Superconductor Science and Technology. Researchers included MIT assistant professor and principal investigator Zachary Hartwig; PSFC Deputy Head of Engineering Rui F. Vieira and other key PSFC technical and engineering staff; CFS Chief Science Officer Brandon Sorbom Ph.D. ’17 and other