Tuesday, October 13, 2020
The analysis done so far shows that the planned fusion energy output of the SPARC reactor should be able to meet the design specifications with a comfortable margin to spare. It is designed to achieve a Q factor -- a key parameter denoting the efficiency of a fusion plasma -- of at least 2, essentially meaning that twice as much fusion energy is produced as the amount of energy pumped in to generate the reaction. That would be the first time a fusion plasma of any kind has produced more energy than it consumed.
The calculations at this point show that SPARC could actually achieve a Q ratio of 10 or more, according to the new papers. While Greenwald cautions that the team wants to be careful not to overpromise, and much work remains, the results so far indicate that the project will at least achieve its goals, and specifically will meet its key objective of producing a burning plasma, wherein the self-heating dominates the energy balance.
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