Scientists in the United Kingdom said that they have reached a new milestone in producing nuclear fusion energy, or replicating how the Sun generates energy.
Nuclear fusion energy is one of humanity’s long-standing goals since it promises to be low-carbon, safer than current nuclear energy production methods, and with an efficiency that may potentially approach 100%.
The UK Atomic Energy Authority stated in a statement on Monday that a team at the Joint European Torus (JET) facility near Oxford in central England created 59 megajoules of sustained energy during an experiment in December, more than double the 1997 record.
A kg of fusion fuel has 10 million times the energy of a kg of coal, oil, or gas. The energy was generated in a tokamak, a doughnut-shaped machine, and the JET site is the world’s biggest operating one of its types. Plasma is created by heating hydrogen isotopes like deuterium and tritium to temperatures 10 times higher than the sun’s core. As it spins around, fuses, and releases massive energy as heat, it is kept in place by superconductor electromagnets.
ITER, the bigger and more sophisticated version of the JET, will benefit greatly from the record and scientific data from these vital tests. ITER is a fusion research mega-project situated in the south of France that is backed by seven countries: China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and the United States. Its goal is to further show the scientific and technical viability of fusion energy.
“These milestone achievements have put us a major step closer to mastering one of the toughest scientific and technical problems of them all,” Ian Chapman, CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, said in a statement. It’s a prize after more than two decades of study and tests with European partners. “
“It’s evident that we need to make big adjustments to address the consequences of climate change,” he said, “and fusion has so much potential.”
Source: The Hindu