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International researchers conduct fusion experiments at U of S

SASKATOON – Scientists from nine countries are meeting at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) from Aug. 23-28 to conduct experiments to help answer questions crucial to the development of commercial nuclear fusion, using the same processes that power the sun to make carbon-free electricity here on Earth.

“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.

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Watch interviews with Akira Hirose and Chijin Xiao about the Plasma Physics Laboratory and their research on the Fedoruk Centre’s YouTube Channel: https://youtu.be/_GS3OcPZtyk and https://youtu.be/7KDrRikehHM.