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Fusion gets closer with successful test of new kind of magnet at MIT start-up backed by Bill Gates

  • Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) said on Wednesday that they completed the successful test of a key technology — a very powerful magnet — on Sunday at 6 a.m. at the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center in Cambridge, Mass. 
  • The magnet is strong enough that when the team builds its donut-shaped fusion machine, called a tokamak, with these magnets, it will be able to achieve "net energy," meaning that the fusion machine makes more energy that it takes to initiate and sustain the reaction, CFS and MIT's PSFC said
  • "Its a big deal," Andrew Holland, Chief Executive Officer of the Fusion Industry Association, told CNBC. "This is not hype, this is reality."

The CFS and MIT teams working on the magnet.Credit: Gretchen Ertl, CFS/MIT-PSFC, 2021

Fusion took a key step forward in its movement from the lab to commercial viability with the successful test of a key technology — a very powerful magnet that uses very little energy.

Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) said on Wednesday that they completed the test on Sunday at 6 a.m. at the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center in Cambridge, Mass. 

In the test, the magnet reached 20 tesla, which is a unit of measurement showing the strength of a magnet. (Like the car company, it's named after the engineer Nikola Tesla.) For reference, 20 tesla is 12 times more than the magnetic field of a traditional MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging scan.

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