Australia is going to have the world’s first nuclear fusion facility made by students from the University of New South Wales (UNSW). It’s not going to use nuclear fuel.
Nuclear fusion is when you heat up tiny particles like hydrogen really, really hot and squeeze them hard. This makes them come together and release a lot of energy, which we can use for power.
This is how the sun makes energy, and we want to do it on Earth without causing pollution. It’s different from the way big power plants work now, which can be dangerous because they make radioactive waste.
The hard part of nuclear fusion is getting more energy out than you put in. Scientists are using strong lasers and a thing called a tokamak, which the UNSW students will use too. A tokamak is a round chamber with magnets that heats up and controls hydrogen.
The university’s program lets students work on big projects like this with their teachers. They also want to use powerful lasers in the future.
But this is not only about making and producing energy, rather it is more about motivating and getting young people more excited about making a difference and creating an impact in the world. Many universities have worked on this and they do have small reactors but the one in discussion is going to be the first for nuclear fusion.
The tokamak they’re building is small, just 3 feet by 3 feet. But it’s going to teach students about handling high electricity and skills they can use in important jobs like safety, transportation, and space.
The team will also study how this technology affects society. Usually, people build things first and then figure out the impact on society. But this project wants to think about it from the start and at the same time they have high hopes to have a working and usable device in 2-3 years.