In April of 2021, it was being talked about that nuclear fusion may not be science fiction anymore. TAE Technologies declared that they have found a way to make power from nuclear fusion.
Recently, there is a new nuclear fusion project that needs to be started and currently, a place is being looked for it. The UK Atomic Energy Authority’s STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production) is going through five locations for the new fully operational power station. This station is scheduled to be completed in the 2040s, according to PhysicsWorld.
The spots shortlisted are one in Scotland and four in England. The final word on the selection of the location will be declared at the end of 2022. This announcement will entail the question of the safety of the area once the plant is built in it.
According to the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), nuclear fusion plants are perfectly safe and eco-friendly.
“Fusion on (…) does not create any long-lived radioactive nuclear waste. A fusion reactor produces helium, which is an inert gas. It also produces and consumes tritium within the plant in a closed circuit. Tritium is radioactive (a beta emitter) but its half-life is short. It is only used in low amounts so, unlike long-lived radioactive nuclei, it cannot produce any serious danger,” wrote the IAEA on its site.
Unlike in fission, the reactions inside the fusion plant do not rely on chain reactions that can get escalated and be a potential threat. Hence, a nuclear reaction is not expected. For fusion to occur, plasma should be maintained at very high temperatures.
Every shift or change of the working configuration in the reactor leads to the plasma being cooled. This, in turn, leads to the reactor automatically shutting down within a few seconds. This mechanism means that if anything unusual happens, the plant will shut down instead of causing explosions.