fusion power is coming (2023)

fusion power is coming (1)

Roberto Zubrin

16 minutes of reading time

On February 8, scientists at the Joint European Torus (JET) Experimental Fusion Facility in Oxfordshire, UK, announced that they had achieved a sustained fusion reaction by releasing 11 megawatts of thermonuclear fusion energy, using a mixture of deuterium and tritium plasma that it burned continuously for five seconds. 🇧🇷

Breakthrough nuclear fusion energy created a record 150 million degrees Celsius, ten times hotter than the sun for 5 seconds!

When you get it right, you create a disruptive opportunity to generate unlimited energy for eternity.pic.twitter.com/U086oidKPn

– Alvin Foo (@alvinfoo)February 11, 2022

The heating power applied to the plasma was slightly greater than the fusion power released. So while JET missed the "break-even" energy milestone, it came very close. The 11 MW power did not surpass the record set in 1997 by the JET built in the 1980s. But this time the burn time lasted five times longer.

Three cheers for the JET team. But one still has to ask, why atokamakcoach 35 years ago is still the best in the world? Or, more broadly, why has progress in developing fusion energy been so slow?

This is a very important question. A little over a century ago, Sir Arthur Eddington, who in 1919 had made observations that proved Einstein's theory of relativity to be true, recognized that the mass lost when hydrogen nuclei fuse into helium, consistent with Einstein's, contained an enormous amount of energy. famous equation E = mc2🇧🇷 And that this must be the mysterious source of the power that illuminates the sun and all the stars.

(Video) Fusion Energy Is Coming. No, Really. | Answers With Joe

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Eddington immediately recognized the possible practical applications of this discovery. Speaking to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in August 1920, he said: "If the subatomic energy in the stars is freely harnessed to maintain their great blast furnaces, it would seem to bring our dream a little closer to the realization of control. this latent power for the good of mankind, or its suicide.”

The idea of ​​converting matter into energy was left to speculation. That was until Lise Meitner, an Austrian scientist who fled the expanding Third Reich to Sweden because she was of Jewish descent, checked data sent to her by her former Berlin collaborator Otto Hahn and discovered that she had achieved nuclear fission. .

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(Meitner, the second woman to earn a Ph.D. in physics, was actually a practicing Christian who patriotically served as an X-ray technician on the front lines of the Austrian army during World War I, but didn't cut the ice with the Nazis.) Meitner shared this revelation with her nephew Otto Frisch when he visited her from Denmark for a Christmas party in 1938. Frisch later told her boss Niels Bohr shortly before the latter left for New York to meet Leo Szilard, Enrico Fermi and a group of other American refugees and scientists for a conference. They immediately recognized her importance. Before the end of the conference, they repeated Hahn's experiment, and shortly thereafter Szilard asked his friend, New York financier Alexander Sachs, to deliver a letter signed by Einstein to Franklin Roosevelt, warning the president of what was now happening. possible.

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FDR understood quickly. "So what you're saying, Alex," he replied, "is that you don't want Hitler to blow us up." Sachs nodded. Thus was born the Manhattan Project.

Nuclear fission works by splitting the heaviest elements into intermediate weight elements using neutrons as projectiles. Therefore, it is much easier to carry out than fusion, since neutrons, which have a neutral charge, are not repelled by target nuclei, while fusion of light nuclei requires overcoming the strong mutual repulsion of positive charges. Furthermore, each fission reaction releases two or three more neutrons, allowing for a chain reaction where each fission starts several more. Nuclear fission thus became the basis of the atomic bomb program during the war and a little later paved the way for controlled nuclear energy, which made possible the first nuclear submarines in 1954 and commercial nuclear power plants from 1957 onwards.

But the merger was not forgotten. Fission bombs can heat and compress a mass of fusion fuel to temperatures and pressures high enough to activate them, resulting in an energy release thousands of times greater than the fission explosion. By the early 1950s, these "hydrogen bomb" weapons were a world-dominating reality. But could not this immense destructive power also be used, as Eddington said, for "the welfare of the human race" and not just for its suicide?

It was definitely worth a try. While ordinary "light" hydrogen fusion (1H), as in stars, requires much larger reactors than humans can build, the heavy isotopes of hydrogen, deuterium (2H or just "D") and tritium (3H or "T") react much faster, making H-bombs and controlled fusion reactors possible. Deuterium is present on Earth in about one in every 6,000 hydrogen atoms, but even that small fraction has a big effect. When burned in a fusion reactor, that tiny fraction, present in a gallon of fresh or salt water, can release as much energy as burning 350 gallons of gasoline. For all practical purposes, controlled fusion means infinite energy.

Top secret programs were launched in Britain starting in 1949 and then in the United States and the USSR in the early 1950s to try to build controlled fusion reactors. In reality, the US and UK programs were secret from each other. The Soviets were well informed of their progress through their excellent spy networks. In fact, the head of the Soviet program, Igor Kurchatov, was better informed about the British program than the British themselves, so much so that he even came to Britain's Harwell Laboratory in 1956 to give a surprise lecture. Without revealing his sources, he generously explained a mistake "one" could make (as the British actually did) in measuring the number of fusion reactions in a plasma. (Apparently, the Soviets wanted Western-controlled fusion programs to succeed, as they would create an energy source that they themselves lacked the resources to develop.)

Unfortunately, the British did not listen and were very embarrassed a year later, when, in response to Sputnik, they launched their fusion program with an announcement of successful results, which turned out to be fiction. However, on a positive note, the UK announcement resulted in the disqualification of all controlled merger programs. the miraculous followed1958 Atoms for Peace Conference in Switzerland, where the male contingent of American fusion researchers had the pleasure of chatting for long hours with the vivacious young women of the Soviet Translation Service, all of whom demonstrated an intense interest in experimental and theoretical physics rarely found in female college students. 🇧🇷

However, even with the declassification, the Soviets remained the most knowledgeable of all the mergers. So, because they knew the flaws in all the different Western approaches, they were able to find a better one. This was the "Tokamak", a name derived from the descriptive Russian acronym for "Toroid Chamber Magnetic".

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I would have to get very technical here to explain why the donut-shaped tokamak performed so much better than the magnetic mirrors, z-pinches, theta-pinches and stellarators sought after in the West. Just say it was. In the mid-1960s, Soviet tokamak master Lev Artsimovich announced results much better than anywhere else, so no one believed him. So he did the unthinkable. He invited a team of British scientists to Moscow to observe and measure the results of experiments in his T-3 tokamak with their own instruments. In 1968 they did and confirmed that all of Artsimovich's claims were true. Tokamak fever has gripped the West. Meanwhile, the Soviets continued with their program, evolving from the groundbreaking T-3 to a series of progressively larger machines, including the T-4 in 1969, the T-10 in 1975, and the superconducting T-15 in 1988.

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Tokamak Fever Hits the West

(Video) Scientists New Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough Changes Everything!

1971The Texas Turbulent tokamak enters service at the University of Texas at Austin, as does the ORMAK tokamak at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
1972Ringkenko compressor in Princeton
1973Tokamak de Fontenay aux Roses (TFR), perto de Paris
1973Alcator A am MIT
1975Great Bull of Princeton
1978Alcator C at MIT and TEXTOR in Julich, Germany
1980TEXTO at UT Austin
one thousand nine hundred and eighty-twoTFTR em Princeton
1983Novillo Tokamak, I'm Instituto Nacional de Pesquisa Nuclear, Mexico City and I'm Joint European Torus (JET) in Culham, UK
1985JT-60 in Japan
1986DIII-D wins General Atomics in San Diego
1987Tokamak from Varrennes in Canada and STOR-M at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada
1988Tore Supra, at CEA, Cadrache, France
1989Aditya, no Institute for Plasma Research (IPR) na Índia

As a result of the tokamak craze, programs that support alternative approaches to fusion, including not only stellars, mirrors, toroidal z-pinches, but also new ideas that take advantage of the self-assembly properties of plasmas, such as spheromaks and inverted background fields. settings, are hungry. While only a few stellarator fanatics survived in Germany, the last major old-school competitor to the tokamak was the magnetic mirror. However, after spending over $200 million to complete the magnetic mirror for the flagship MFTF-B at Livermore, the Department of Energy scandalously abandoned the program in 1985 before the machine could be started.

But when the fusion program narrowed dangerously on an important concept, this approach, the tokamak, was vigorously adopted.

Fueled by vigorous international competition and with a viable approach in hand, the actual amount of fusion energy released in experimental tokamaks grew over the next three decades.trillion times.

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However, this successful march towards controlled merger stopped when the bureaucrats who controlled the main merger programs got together in the mid-1980s and decided that such competition was wasteful and stressful. Wouldn't it be better, they thought, if we all joined together into one big machine, rather than competing to build more powerful tokamaks? They decided it would be and called it the International Fusion Test Reactor, or ITER.

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Fusion made steady advances from the 1950s through the mid-1980s, fueled by vigorous competition between programs from the US, Europe, the Soviet Union and Japan. But by merging these competing programs into a single unified effort, ITER, that competitive edge disappeared. The result was that progress on the merger stalled because no new machines were built. Instead, virtually all research into advanced non-tokamak concepts was halted, and funds that should have been used to build the next generation of tokamaks were siphoned off to high-ranking bureaucrats at an endless series of summits in Vienna and Kyoto, and for other luxury. Places around to send the world. The ITER design froze into a gargantuan concept at first, and the program then dragged on, with no agreement on where to put the machine in the first place for two decades. At the moment, the machine is not yet built. If it continues with the current schedule, it will not call until 2025 and will not attempt to call until 2035.

This absurdly icy advance has caused many in and around the tech community to become cynical. "Fusion is the energy of the future and always will be" became a common joke. But there are reasons for hope.

Meetings to plan the ITER program began in the early 1980s, and by the summer of 1985 many of those working in charge of the fusion program already considered it a "scandal". At the time, I was part of an engineering team at the Los Alamos National Lab working on the first design of a fusion reactor based on the then highly advanced concept of the spherical tokamak, or ST. At a joint lunch at the end of the mission, team leader Robert Krakowski reflected philosophically.

"You know," Krakowski said. "When fusion power is finally developed, it won't be in places like Los Alamos or Livermore. It's done by some freaks who work in a garage."

(Video) Fusion power: how close are we? | FT Film

We all laughed at that, knowing how the enormous difficulties involved in developing fusion power push such a feat far beyond the capabilities of garage inventors. But in recent years, the trend has shifted sharply towards confirmation of Krakowski's prophecy.

While national programs are just a shadow of their former selves and ITER continues to move to the rhythm of continental drift, something else is happening.

A breakthrough has occurred. Through its spectacularly rapid development of reusable launch vehicles, Elon Musk's company, SpaceX, has shown that it is possible for a well-run, efficient and creative business organization to accomplish things much faster than they ever thought possible, which would be impossible thanks to the efforts of the big ones would require powerful governments. This hits observers of the fusion program like a bolt of lightning from nowhere. Could it be that the seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieving controlled fusion, such as the obstacles to a cheap space launch, are more institutional than really technical? Suddenly, venture capitalists were interested. Well-funded corporate efforts have been launched around the world to make fusion energy a reality, and they are advancing at a rate that far exceeds official government programs. As things are going, there's an excellent chance that the first controlled thermonuclear fusion reactors will ignite this decade. Maybe not a bunch of freaks in a garage, but a team of engineers from a start-up company working in a warehouse.

As a result, a large number of innovative private fusion power startups are being funded (see below).

Fusion is an unlimited source of energy, but there is an even greater force in the universe: human creativity. The merger will bring us prosperity. Freedom will give us fusion.


This Oxfordshire, England company, started in 2009 by former Culham Lab employees Jonathan Carling, David Kingham and Michael Graznevitch, has raised $50 million of mostly private money to try to develop ST (the same concept I worked on in the 1990s). from 1980). , which was very innovative for ITER to adopt) into a commercial jet. In a magnetic confinement fusion reactor, the amount of energy that can be produced increases proportionally to β2B4, where β is the ratio between plasma pressure and magnetic pressure and B is the magnetic field strength. A common tokamak like ITER can only reach β of around 0.12, but an ST can reach β of 0.4. As a result, an ST can produce the same power as a regular tokamak in a machine less than 1/10 the size and cost.


Founded in 2018, the MIT-based company has raised $75 million so far, including $50 million from Italian oil company ENI and about $25 million from the Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund owned by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, Mukesh Ambani and Richard Branson. 🇧🇷 The roots of the CFS design concept go back to the 1980s, when highly creative MIT maverick physicist Bruno Coppi proposed achieving fusion in a very small tokamak simply by using ultra-strong magnetic fields. The magnetic field lines of a tokamak force the particles to follow them by spiraling around the chamber, the radius of the spirals being inversely proportional to the strength of the magnetic field. Coppi argued that the relevant dimension of a tokamak is not its size.joya, but the ratio of its size to the radius of the spiral, because that ratio determines how long a particle lasts before hitting the wall. Furthermore, as noted above, the greater the strength of the magnetic field, the faster the particle is likely to react. So if you want a particle to participate in a fusion reaction before it hits the wall (which would make it too cold for fusion), just use ultra-strong magnets. The problem, however, is that the highest magnetic field that can be achieved in practice with conventional low-temperature superconducting magnets is about 6 Tesla, and Coppi needed 12 T. So he designed an experimental machine called the "Ignitor". using high density copper magnets. This may not be a practical commercial ballast as resistive copper magnets would consume too much power. Still, if it had been built, we probably would have achieved thermonuclear fusion ignition in the 1990s. But all US Department of Energy funding went to ITER, so the Ignitor was never built. But starting in 2014, a group at MIT led by Professor Dennis Whyte decided to pick up where Coppi left off and improved the concept of the lighter using high temperature superconducting magnets that require no electrical power and reach 12 T. As a result, the CFS reactor , known as a SPARC (Smallest Possible Affordable Robust Compact) fusion reactor, with more than twice the magnetic field strength of ITER, will achieve 1/5 of the performance that ITER expects to achieve in a 1/65 reactor. Furthermore, CFS aims to do this by 2025, achieving in seven years what ITER hopes to achieve in half a century.

Energia Tri-Alfa

Founded in 1998 by the late Dr. Norman Rostoker, Southern California-based TAE recently raised more than $800 million in investment from heavy hitters including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Goldman Sachs, Wellcome Trust, Silicon Valley-based NEA and Venrock . TAE's departure from orthodoxy is more radical than the above setup, as they don't use a tokamak or any toroidal chamber. Instead, TAE uses a simple cylindrical chamber, with the necessary toroidal magnetic field induced in the plasma itself, suddenly reversing a linear magnetic field generated by an external solenoid, causing it to bend and connect with itself. This creates a sort of smoke ring vortex in the plasma, which is called an "inverted field configuration" or FRC in the fusion industry. When I was a graduate student at the University of Washington in the 1980s, FRCs were all the rage, routinely reaching β values ​​greater than 0.5. Furthermore, their simple cylindrical construction makes them much more promising than tokamaks for making low-cost commercial systems or fusion rocket engines. But by the 1980s, the tokamaks had exhausted all US fusion budget funding, and soon after, even the US tokamaks ran out of funds to power ITER. The FRCs were also far awayVanguardare not taken into account by ITER. But private investors are much bolder than international bureaucrats, and TAE is pushing hard, aiming to demonstrate net energy production by 2024.

(Video) How This Fusion Reactor Will Make Electricity by 2024


Helion was created in 2013 by Dr. David Kirtley, Professor John Slough, Chris Pihl and Dr. George Votroubek and uses two FRCs accelerated from opposite ends in a cylindrical reaction chamber to collide in the center where they are compressed by a magnetic field. to the reaction conditions. The fusion reactions then heat the FRC plasma, causing it to expand towards the edges of the chamber at high speed, converting its energy directly into electricity in the process. The cycle would then repeat once a second to continue producing power or, alternatively, thrust for the rocket. In November 2021, Helion Energy announced the completion of its $500 million Series E, with an additional $1.7 billion in commitments tied to certain milestones. The round was chaired by Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI and former president of Y Combinator. Existing investors including Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, Peter Thiel's Mithril Capital and Capricorn Investment Group also participated in the round.

general merger

GF was founded in 2002 by Dr. Michel Laberge and Michael Delage in Burnaby, British Columbia and has since received an investment of approximately $130 million. The GF concept injects an FRC into a chamber containing a rotating wall of liquid metal, which is then pushed by a series of pistons to compress the FRC under molten conditions. This is a variant of the "implosion cladding" concept that dates back to the AEC's 1972 LINUS project. The theory behind this is complicated, but it seems sound. GF hopes to prove that it all works by the mid-2020s.

Lockheed Martin

In 2010, Lockheed Martin, inspired by Dr. Tom McGuire and Charles Chase, launched their own internally funded Compact Fusion Reactor development program. The CFR appears to be a linear cylindrical system bounded at the ends by high magnetic fields (or "magnetic mirrors"), but with an additional pair of superconducting magnetic coils operating within the plasma chamber to form "thorns" that form the enhancement. lockdown. This makes for a very attractive magnetic field setup, but designing it to work in a real thermonuclear system seems quite challenging.


In 1987, the late visionary Robert Bussard (of Bussard ramjet fame) revived a 1950s concept pioneered by Philo Farnworth (the inventor of television) to use electrostatic fields rather than magnetic fields to confine a fusion plasma. 🇧🇷 The idea works well enough that a very simple system can be used to generate many fusion reactions, as evidenced by the production of neutrons, but all sorts of bells and whistles are needed, including additional magnetic fields, to come close to producing . energy. Buzzard managed to get preliminary funding from the US Navy, but he is now gone, and the rest of the team, led by Dr. Paul Sieg and by Dr. Jaeyoung Park is seeking private funding. Any buyers?


(Video) Fusion Power Explained – Future or Failure

In addition to the above, there are some dark horses in the race. These include New Jersey-based Lawrenceville Plasma Physics Fusion led by Dr. Eric Lerner, who achieved exciting results with a concept called plasma focus; CT Fusion, developed by Dr. Tom Jarboe, Dr. University of Washington founded by Aaron Hossack and Derek Sutherland using an FRC-type approach known as "Spheromak"; Applied Fusion Systems, founded in 2015 by Richard Dinan and Dr. James Lambert experiencing a TS; Helity Space, a company founded by Setthivone You, Marta Calvo and Staphane Lintner, whose concept Dr. You developed to use the plasma self-assembly process that creates solar lobes to develop fusion reactors and fusion rockets; Australian company HB11 Energy, which is applying Heinrich Hora's unique combined laser-magnetic fusion concept to try to start the elusive p-11B fusion reaction; and the Sandia Lab/University of Rochester Hyper V, NumerEx, and MagLIF project, all trying to develop variants of the implosive coating concept.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Helion was founded in 2005 solely by Professor John Slough. This section has been modified. Sorry for my mistake.


How soon will we have fusion power? ›

However, creating nuclear fusion energy is incredibly difficult and the project has run into many delays. The latest target is to do the first plasma test in December 2025, and then a full fusion reaction in 2035.

How far off are we from fusion power? ›

There's a running joke in the nuclear fusion research community: Harnessing the thermonuclear reactions that power the sun and stars to produce abundant, clean, cheap energy here on Earth is always 30 years away. But that timeline may have shortened a bit.

Is fusion power possible now? ›

Unfortunately, no, as history in fusion research shows. But this is just my opinion,” Cuneo says. “Ten years is very little time. It's still a good vision to invest more in this technology (and others) to go faster.”

Is fusion power the future? ›

Though there are many steps between today and commercial viability, without this step, fusion as an energy source was little more than a science fiction gimmick. Today, it's a reality. And the long-term potential of a fusion-heavy future is simply staggering.

Will nuclear fusion save us? ›

Unless there's an even larger breakthrough, fusion is unlikely to play a major role in power production before the 2060s or 2070s, says Tony Roulstone, a nuclear engineer at Cambridge University in the U.K., who's done an economic analysis of fusion power.

Will fusion energy heat the earth? ›

There are no CO2 or other harmful atmospheric emissions from the fusion process, which means that fusion does not contribute to greenhouse gas emissions or global warming. Its two sources of fuel, hydrogen and lithium, are widely available in many parts of the Earth.

What are the dangers of fusion energy? ›

Radiation damage and radioactive waste.

The neutron radiation damage in the solid vessel wall is expected to be worse than in fission reactors because of the higher neutron energies. Fusion neutrons knock atoms out of their usual lattice positions, causing swelling and fracturing of the structure.

Does fusion power stop climate change? ›

This input is to be welcomed but we should be emphatic: fusion will not arrive in time to save the planet from climate change. Electricity plants powered by renewable sources or nuclear fission offer the only short-term alternatives to those that burn fossil fuels.

Will nuclear fusion in sun stop? ›

Nuclear fusion happens when lighter elements, like hydrogen, are combined into heavier elements, like helium. In about 5 billion years, the hydrogen in the Sun's core will run out and the sun will not have enough fuel for nuclear fusion.

Will nuclear fusion ever be a reality? ›

Fusion is not a net-zero magic bullet

Even with government-sponsored initiatives, the science of fusion will take time to become a practical reality. And it may never do so. With a timetable of decades in the most optimistic scenarios, fusion won't get us to net-zero 2050 goals.

Has fusion ever been achieved? ›

Scientists achieve a breakthrough in nuclear fusion. Here's what it means. The fusion record was achieved at the National Ignition Facility at California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which ignites fusion fuel with an array of 192 lasers.

Has any fusion reactor broke even? ›

But until now, none of these experiments have achieved fusion reactions that have produced more energy than was put into the system—that is, scientific breakeven (or when scientific gain equals one).

Is fusion really a breakthrough? ›

The one that was announced last month was that for the first time, scientists got more energy out of the fusion process than they had to put in. Previous efforts that had achieved fusion required more energy inputs than the fusion reaction produced. So, this does mark a significant breakthrough.

Would fusion energy be cheap? ›

Right now, there's nothing cheap about fusion energy. “If you're thinking about a fusion energy plant, you're talking about a very complicated, very expensive piece of equipment,” said Chris Fall with the nonprofit MITRE Corporation. “It's kind of like buying a Rolls Royce at this point, as opposed to a Toyota.

Why can't we use nuclear fusion yet? ›

Why haven't we been able to make ignition happen? Well, turns out, it's really hard to recreate a star in a lab. To trigger fusion, you need tremendous amounts of pressure and heat. The environment in the heart of the Sun naturally provides the extreme pressure needed for fusion to take place.

What is the holy grail of clean energy? ›

Fusion Is The Holy Grail Of Clean Energy, And It Just Made A Major Breakthrough. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

What is the biggest problem with nuclear fusion? ›

Some component materials will become radioactive during the lifetime of a reactor, due to bombardment with high-energy neutrons, and will eventually become radioactive waste.

Will we ever have cold fusion? ›

There is currently no accepted theoretical model that would allow cold fusion to occur.

Can fusion reactors explode? ›

The process of fusion is used in fusion reactors or thermonuclear reactors to produce electricity because the process releases a lot of energy. Fusion reactors cannot explode because these reactions do not involve chain reactions that cannot be stopped.

Is fusion happening in Earth core? ›

Experimental and theoretical data show that the main source of the earth's energy, which is the prime cause of endogenic and tectonic processes, is fusion reactions that take place in the planet's inner core, which consists of metal hydrides.

What happens if nuclear fusion goes wrong? ›

So if something goes wrong with the reactor, the fusion reaction will simply stop. That's why there's no danger of a runaway reaction like a nuclear meltdown. And unlike fission, fusion power doesn't use require fuel like uranium that produces long-lived, highly radioactive waste.

How long can fusion energy last? ›

(Terrestrial reserves of lithium would permit the operation of fusion power plants for more than 1,000 years, while sea-based reserves of lithium would fulfil needs for millions of years.) A critical challenge is how to breed and recover tritium reliably in a fusion device.

Is fusion safer than nuclear? ›

Is Fusion or Fission More Dangerous? Nuclear fission is more dangerous than fusion as it produces harmful weapons-grade radioactive waste in the fuel rods that need to be stored safely away for thousands of years.

How close are we to fusion reactors? ›

Researchers have taken a big step, but the journey is not yet complete. A commercial fusion reactor will require more effort and investment and it's still a few decades away. Fusion isn't tomorrow's green technology – for that we'll need solar, wind and nuclear fission – but it is the future.

Would fusion solve the energy crisis? ›

At the end of the day, nuclear fusion technology will take time — which some scientists say we don't have. Fusion power certainly cannot solve the energy crisis this winter, and it won't help cut emissions soon.

What happens to our sun after all fusion stops? ›

Second, the lack of gravitational compression in the core will cause the process of nuclear fusion to stop, since there will no longer be any force capable of fusing atomic nuclei together. So, the Sun will be left as a small (Earth-sized) ball of inert gas called a White Dwarf: it will essentially be dead.

Why is the Sun still expanding if fusion has stopped? ›

With no hydrogen left to fuse in the core, a shell of fusion hydrogen will form around the helium-filled core, astrophysicist Jillian Scudder wrote in an article for The Conversation (opens in new tab). Gravitational forces will take over, compressing the core and allowing the rest of the sun to expand.

How much longer in years can the Sun maintain H fusion? ›

As noted above, the Sun is 4.5 billion years old, so with our calculations from problem one we can estimate that the Sun can shine for 6 billion more years before running out of energy.

Will we ever harness fusion? ›

When are we going to have nuclear fusion power plants? The most optimistic experts The Verge spoke to hope that we might have the first fusion power plant within a decade. But most experts, while still excited about the future of fusion power, think that we're likely still several decades away.

What happens if we achieve fusion? ›

Fusing two atoms creates a tremendous amount of heat, which holds the key to producing energy. That heat can be used to warm water, create steam and turn turbines to generate power – much like how nuclear fission generates energy.

Can humans create fusion? ›

Scientists achieve a breakthrough in nuclear fusion. Here's what it means. The fusion record was achieved at the National Ignition Facility at California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which ignites fusion fuel with an array of 192 lasers.

Why can't Earth do fusion? ›

Meeting Earth's energy demands

On the Sun, the process of fusion is driven by the Sun's immense gravitational force and high temperatures. But the Earth does not have the immense gravitational force required to confine the hydrogen nuclei. So a different approach is needed to achieve fusion reactions on Earth.

Will nuclear fusion stop global warming? ›

This input is to be welcomed but we should be emphatic: fusion will not arrive in time to save the planet from climate change. Electricity plants powered by renewable sources or nuclear fission offer the only short-term alternatives to those that burn fossil fuels.

Which country is leading in nuclear fusion? ›

"Of the more than 30 fusion companies in the world, two-thirds are based in the U.S., and most were founded in the last decade," the White House said.

What temperature is fusion possible? ›

To summarize, three main conditions are necessary for nuclear fusion: The temperature must be hot enough to allow the ions to overcome the Coulomb barrier and fuse together. This requires a temperature of at least 100 million degrees Celsius.

Has there been a breakthrough in nuclear fusion? ›

The one that was announced last month was that for the first time, scientists got more energy out of the fusion process than they had to put in. Previous efforts that had achieved fusion required more energy inputs than the fusion reaction produced. So, this does mark a significant breakthrough.


1. Fusion Energy is About to Unlock Humanity's Destiny
2. Nuclear-Fusion Breakthrough: How Long Until Limitless Clean Energy? | Tech News Briefing | WSJ
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3. Major breakthrough on nuclear fusion energy - BBC News
(BBC News)
4. What This Breakthrough Means For Nuclear Fusion
(Undecided with Matt Ferrell)
5. Nuclear Fusion: Inside the breakthrough that could change our world | 60 Minutes
(60 Minutes)
6. Dennis Whyte: Nuclear Fusion and the Future of Energy | Lex Fridman Podcast #353
(Lex Fridman)
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