Scientists congregate for nuclear fusion experiments at University of Saskatchewan

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Scientists are looking for technologies that will enable us to obtain clear energy and nuclear fusion is on the top of the list because of its immense potential to generate immense amounts of carbon-free clear energy.

Nuclear fusion reactions power the Sun and scientists have been looking to answer some key questions that have been posing as hurdles in commercialisation of nuclear fusion.

To answer these and many other questions, scientists from 9 different countries have congregated at University of Saskatchewan, Canada where they will be conducting fusion experiments from August 23 to 28.

“This series of joint experiments is an outstanding opportunity to enhance our international collaborations and provide opportunities for our students to interact with prominent world experts, while advancing fusion research,” said Chijin Xiao, professor of Physics and Engineering Physics at the U of S.

Xiao and fellow researcher Akira Hirose are members of the U of S Plasma Physics Laboratory. They have sent students to participate in similar experiments at facilities around the world.

“This meeting showcases some of the unique nuclear capabilities at the university and is a great opportunity for Saskatchewan-based researchers to show off what is being done in the province to the world,” said Neil Alexander, executive director of the Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation.

Eight experiments are part of a technical meeting sponsored by the International Atomic Energy Agency and supported by the Fedoruk Centre. Researchers will use facilities at the U of S Plasma Physics Laboratory that are unique in Canada and only found in a handful of countries. These include a tokamak, a device that safely generates and stores a doughnut-shaped cloud of superheated gas or plasma. Atomic nuclei within the plasma are squeezed in attempts to fuse them together, creating heavier atoms and releasing energy. The U of S is the only university in Canada with a tokamak.

The experiments will explore how to keep the plasma cloud stable while stoking it with hydrogen fuel and maximizing conditions for fusion to occur. The results will be used by scientists and engineers in the design of full-sized fusion reactors, such as the US$14 billion ITER project currently under construction in France.