Could magnets be the next line of defense for countries?

Wars Jul 04, 2021

In this technologically driven 21st century we can hardly witness a single day without new scientific inventions, this time new global development comes forward from the USA as it is giving France the world's strongest magnet dubbed “the Central Solenoid”. The magnet is said to be powerful enough to lift an aircraft carrier to 6 feet in the air. The country is receiving this magnet for the rapid development of the ITER Project and to give a push in the direction of producing clean energy.

What is ITER and what is the significance of this magnet?

Dr. Bernard Bigot, Director-General of the ITER Organisation said -

" The ITER project is the most complex scientific collaboration in history ".

ITER means 'the way' in Latin

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is one of the highly ambitious missions driven by the European Union, India, Japan, China, Korea, Russia, and the United States for about 35 years working in collaboration, seeking a way to carry out and maintain nuclear fusion reactions for long periods by integrating engineering technologies, materials, physicists and many other resources from several countries for the production of commercially viable nuclear-fusion based electricity by building & operating the ITER experimental device.

Thus, aiming to replicate the process occurring on the sun by generating a similar tremendous amount of energy on earth and addressing the energy crises.

Now, Let's try to understand the strength and significance of this magnet in detail.

Each of the countries has poured their part of investments in this project and the USA is giving this most powerful magnet to France where this whole project is taking place.

The Central Solenoid will be the largest of all other magnets used in the device. Considering its location and pivotal role in functioning, this magnet is also referred to as the "beating heart of the machine", the world's largest fusion reactor, ITER.

The magnet has a pivotal role in energy synthesis as it induces a powerful current in the ITER plasma, helping to shape and control the fusion reaction by maintaining the gravitational field by virtue of its property of attraction.

This task becomes a bit tricky since, in nuclear fusion, smaller atoms are fused to create larger ones, which leads to enormous amounts of energy, and controlling it is a key aspect.

Thus, this magnet has a crucial role in creating an atmosphere similar to the sun for nuclear fusion to occur successfully in ITER.

Strength of magnet -

It is made in 6 modules.

After completely assembling and constructing the magnet it will be 18 meters tall, 4.2 meters wide, and will weigh around 1000 tonnes. Possessing a magnetic field strength of 13 teslas, which is about 280,000 times stronger than Earth's own magnetic field, which eventually makes it able to lift 100,000 tons (90,700 metric tons) i.e. of an Aircraft Carrier.

But one question that arises is why is fusion considered important compared to conventional sources?

The answer lies in two facts -

  1. The present way of procuring energy from fission is feasible but the energy amount is relatively lesser and also results in radioactive waste.
  2. Sustained nuclear fusion will open the door to unlimited renewable energy, which would slash carbon emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

This article has been written by Kartik Bajare for The Paradigm

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