The first breakthrough comes from Sandia National Laboratories [where a] research team has been working on a new way to create fusion called magnetized liner inertial fusion (MagLIF)…
Instead of lasers, MagLIF uses a massive magnetic pulse (26 million amps), created by Sandia’s Z Machine (a huge X-ray generator), to crush a small cylinder containing the hydrogen fuel. \
Through various optimizations, the researchers discovered a MagLIF setup that almost produces more thermal energy than the electrical energy required to begin the fusion reaction.
Probably more significant is news from the Joint European Torus (JET), a magnetic confinement fusion facility in the UK…
Where Sandia creates an instantaneous fusion reaction using heat and pressure, JET confines the fusing plasma for a much longer duration using strong magnetic fields, and are thus more inclined towards the steady production of electricity.
JET’s breakthrough was the installation of a new beryllium-lined wall and tungsten floor inside the tokamak — the doughnut-shaped inner vessel that confines 11-million-degrees-Celsius plasma (see photo).
Carbon is the conventional tokamak lining (and the lining that had been chosen for the first iteration of ITER) but now it seems the beryllium-tungsten combo significantly improves the quality of the plasma.