Students of the University of the New South Wales (UNSW) have embarked on the development of a nuclear synthesis reactor based on the Tokamak design. The main challenge in nuclear synthesis lies in creating conditions where the energy produced by the reaction exceeds the cost of initiating it.
Tokamak is a donut-shaped vacuum chamber surrounded by powerful magnets. These devices are utilized to heat and control hydrogen atoms at extremely high temperatures. The development of the reactor is part of UNSW’s Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) program, which encourages students to participate in long-term and large-scale projects under the guidance of an academic mentor.
Patrick Burr, a teacher at UNSW, highlighted that students involved in the project will solve significant engineering challenges. The primary goal of the project is not only the generation of energy through nuclear synthesis but also inspiring the next generation of innovators and helping them understand how they can make a significant contribution to the world.
Despite its small size of 1×1 meter, the planned Tokamak device will require students to work with high stresses and develop skills applicable to areas such as critical infrastructure, transportation, and space science.
The team will also assess the social impact of the technology. Burr explained that engineering advancements in the nuclear industry sometimes precede public opinion, and this project aims to foster a relationship between the field of nuclear synthesis and society.
The operational device is expected to be launched within two to three years.
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