Nuclear fusion is the process that allows our Sun to be the ultimate source of energy. Scientists have struggled to achieve this unlimited power and harness it on earth for clean energy that has no carbon emissions. The nuclear reactors being used currently rely on nuclear fission, a process that splits the atoms. Nuclear fusion, on the other hand, combines the atoms and generates helium as the product.
Tokamak Energy is the company behind the new fusion reactor known as ST40 that was turned on last week by the UK. The core of reactor was able to fruitfully produce a blazing drop of plasma, an electrically charged gas.
To obtain unlimited clean energy, the hydrogen atoms need to fuse together to become helium. It can only be achieved when plasma is heated up to 180-million-degree Fahrenheit. To anticipate that amount of heat, let me tell you that core of the sun is seven times less hot than this temperature. This company aims to attain those temperatures with the help of cutting-edge high-powered magnetic coils that hold plasma at this much outrageous temperature. The plan is to make it possible by 2018.
The technology has been refined by multiple efforts from scientists around the globe. Here are some honorable mentions: In October, MIT scientists reached the zenith for plasma pressure. In December, high-performance plasma was sustained to 540-million-degree Fahrenheit for as long as 70 seconds by South Korea. Germany developed a novel fusion reactor that controlled plasma successfully.
Still far from perfecting the process and making it affordable, the final goal is to produce clean fusion energy for the grids in the UK, hopefully by 2030. The success of the reactor has marked a significant footstep in fusion energy development, not only in the UK but around the world as well. The rest of the world is also using Tokamak reactors for development.
David Kingham, CEO of Tokamak Energy, said,
“We are unveiling the first world-class controlled fusion device to have been designed, built and operated by a private venture. The ST40 is a machine that will show fusion temperatures – 100 million degrees – are possible in compact, cost-effective reactors. This will allow fusion power to be achieved in years, not decades.”
Soon the face of nuclear reactors will change while ensuring a clean and green technology!