A 150-ton magnet, developed in part by MIT engineers, is pulling the world closer to nuclear fusion as a potential source of energy. In nuclear fusion, light elements are fused together at enormous pressures to make heavier elements, a process that releases large amounts of energy. Powerful magnets provide the magnetic fields needed to initiate, sustain, and control the plasma, or electrically charged gas, in which fusion occurs. Over the last three years, "We've shown that we can design a magnet of this size and complexity and make it work," said Joseph V. Minervini, a senior research engineer at MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) and Department of Nuclear Engineering. He notes, however, that a better understanding of certain results is necessary to reduce costs for the researchers' ultimate goal: a magnet weighing 925 tons that will be key to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. That magnet, in turn, will be part of a total magnet system weighing some 10,000 tons. For more information, contact: Joseph Minervini, at (617) 253-5503 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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