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Scientists make breakthrough in understanding nuclear fusion

By Thor Benson Contact the Author   |   March 15, 2015 at 4:04 PM

SAN DIEGO, March 15 (UPI) -- Scientists from General Atomics and the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have made a breakthrough in understanding nuclear fusion.

They were attempting to figure out how to control potentially damaging heat bursts (ELMs) that regularly occur in a reactor. Researchers were able to use tiny magnetic fields to control the bursts and maintain a safe reaction. Using these magnetic fields, researchers were able to harness heat from the reactor in a controlled manner, rather than through dangerous bursts.

"The configuration changes suddenly when the plasma is tapped in a certain way," PPPL scientist Raffi Nazikian said, "and it is this response that suppresses the ELMs."

The results of the research will be published in two studies in the journal Physical Review Letters.

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