T-15 (reactor)

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Operation date1988–1995
Major radius2.43 m
Minor radius0.7 m
Plasma volume50 m3
Magnetic field3.6 T
Heating3 MW
LocationMoscow, Russia
T-15 tokamak on a 1987 USSR stamp
Vacuum vessel shell
Toroidal winding and poloidal field coils after disassembly

The T-15 is a Russian (previously Soviet) nuclear fusion research reactor located at the Kurchatov Institute, which is based on the (Soviet-invented) tokamak design. It was the first industrial prototype fusion reactor to use superconducting magnets to control the plasma.[1] These enormous superconducting magnets confined the plasma the reactor produced, but failed to sustain it for more than just a few seconds. Despite not being immediately applicable, this new technological advancement proved to the USSR that they were on the right path. In the original (circular cross-section with limiter) shape, a toroidal chamber design, it had a major radius of 2.43m and minor radius 0.7m.[2]

The T-15 achieved creating its first thermonuclear plasma in 1988 and the reactor remained operational until 1995. The plasma created was thought to solve a number of issues engineers have struggled with in the past.[clarification needed][citation needed] This combined with the USSR's desire for cheaper energy ensured the continuing progress of the T-15 under Mikhail S. Gorbachev. It was designed to replace the country's use of gas and coal as the primary sources of energy.

It achieved 1MA and 1.5MW injection for 1 second pulse.[3] It carried out about 100 shots before closing (in 1995) due to a lack of funds.[4]

1996 upgrade[edit]

From 1996 to 1998 a series of upgrades were made to the reactor, in order to conduct preliminary research for the design work on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor or ITER. One of the upgrades converted the tokamak to a D-shape divertor design with a major plasma radius of 1.5m. ITER will also use superconducting magnets. The nuclear predecessors before such as the T-10 were capable of reaching 16,700,000°C (30,000,000°F). This increased temperature made it possible to introduce the electron cyclotron resonance (ECR), ion cyclotron resonance (ICR), and neutral atoms, as to maintain the reactions.[citation needed]

2010 upgrade to T-15MD[edit]

In the year 2010 it was decided to upgrade the reactor.[5] On the basis of the T-15 there will be created a nuclear fusion-fission hybrid reactor, intended to use the neutrons generated by a core fusion reactor component to incite fission in otherwise nonfissile fuels, and to explore the feasibility of such a system for power generation.[6][7][8] The upgraded machine is called T-15MD and is currently expected to be ready in 2019.[9]


  1. ^ Smirnov, V.P. (2010). "Tokamak foundation in USSR/Russia 1950–1990" (PDF). Nuclear Fusion. 50 (1): 014003. CiteSeerX doi:10.1088/0029-5515/50/1/014003. ISSN 0029-5515.
  2. ^ [1] Belyakov et al., The T-15 tokamak. Basic characteristics and research program, Soviet Atomic Energy, February 1982, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 103-111
  3. ^ Superconducting Tokamak T-15 Upgrade. Kirnev et al.
  4. ^ [2] The Second Life of Tokamak T-15, Iter newsline, 5 November 2010
  5. ^ TOKAMAK T-15MD: experience of scientific and technical project realization in RUSSIA (2017)
  6. ^ Upgraded Russian tokamak T-15 launch in 2018
  7. ^ Russia develops hybrid fusion-fission reactor
  8. ^ Пуск модернизированной российской термоядерной установки ожидается в 2018 году
  9. ^ Litvak, A.G.; Romannikov, Alexander (2017). "Medium size tokamak T-15MD as a base for experimental fusion research in Russian Federation". EPJ Web of Conferences. 149: 01007. doi:10.1051/epjconf/201714901007. ISSN 2100-014X.

Further reading[edit]

  • Josephson, P. R. (2000). Red atom: Russia's nuclear power program from Stalin to today. New York: W.H. Freeman.
  • Effects of the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident on Utility Share Prices. Rajiv Kalra, Glenn V. Henderson, Jr. and Gary A. Raines. Quarterly Journal of Business and Economics, Vol. 32, No. 2 (Spring, 1993), pp. 52–77.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°48′05″N 37°28′37″E / 55.8014°N 37.4769°E / 55.8014; 37.4769