Friday, January 18, 2008

Sandia Z-Pinch Machine – Creating Conditions for Fusion

Sandia’s Z-Pinch Machine can create about 240 Trillion watts of energy, but only for a billionth of a second. Still that represents 80 times the worlds output of electricity. The z-pinch or zeta-pinch refers to the confinement of plasma down the z-axis of a three dimensional graph which was used in the earliest experimental devices in England. This is used in fusion research by “pinching” the plasma to reach very high temperatures. Early versions proved unstable until the 1980s when researchers reconfigured the device to use tungsten wires rather than external magnets to create the pinching effect. In general, non-nuclear energy outputs are less than the inputs. Fusion energy output is higher than the input – in this case by a factor of four.

Sandia continues the research with their Z-machine which is the world’s highest peak-current pulsed-powered device in the world. The key finding is that such a machine demonstrates the ability to generate very high temperatures with a much smaller machine than other facilities use. This means generating fusion at a potentially lower cost.

Best regards,
Hall T.

6 Comments:

Anonymous sth said...

Hall,

During the current debate about energy security in the US there is much confusion about energy and power.

Watts are power, or energy per second flowing through the system
watt-hours are total energy.

Sometimes people talk about total power consumption or generation in the silly units of kilowatt-hours/day. When the actual units should just be watts.

Energy has no time associated with it. This is like liters of water. Power has a flow like liters/second.

In this case the first sentence should be "Sandia’s Z-Pinch Machine can create about 240 Trillion watts of POWER, but only for a billionth of a second."

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