A marathon race in the direction of Fusion Power can reach the sprint
Nuclear fusion is the sacred shield of energy research. The two experiments in France and Massachusetts fusion differently, but both are making progress.
In September, a very large, incredibly powerful magnet was landed in Saint-Paul-les-Durans in southern France to be incorporated into the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a major international collaboration trying to prove economic and technical feasibility. Molecular fusion.
Across the lake, just days after the arrival of that giant magnet, a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in collaboration with Commonwealth Fusion Systems, a private company, announced their latest performance in the economic molecular fusion race: their successful testing Runs on a magnet. These two magnet-driven experiments demonstrate two approaches to fusion power, the sacred shield of energy research.
Atomic fusion has already been achieved. The record holder for controlled fusion power is maintained by a machine called JET, which produced 1 megawatt of fusion power in the late 1990’s. The difficulties physicists and engineers now face – and have faced since the fusion was achieved – are managing to get more power from nuclear fusion reactors used by machines to drive reactions.
Nuclear fusion is a reaction that generates enormous amounts of energy, but it does not occur naturally on Earth. If man can safely and economically generate more energy from fusion reactions (and it takes a lot of energy to do that) than to power reactions, we will no longer rely on carbon-based energy sources like coal, oil and natural. Air but we are moving forward on our own.
Nuclear fusion describes a reaction that occurs when the light nuclei of two atoms form a single nucleus. In that process, a huge amount of energy is released. (This is Einstein’s E = mc2 in practice.) For fusion to happen, things must be extraordinarily exciting, meaning they must be at temperatures of 100 million degrees or more. Nuclear fusion means the sun shines, because hydrogen atoms come together to form helium, releasing energy in the process. If scientists could perform this process on Earth and perform the process on a large scale, it would completely clean up energy by cutting fossil fuels from the equation.
Martin Greenwald, a physicist at MIT’s Plasma Science, said, “You can say this is a difficult problem, because people have been working on it for decades, you know, with really serious efforts, smart people, a lot of money, big machines.” And members of the Fusion Center and MIT-CFS collaboration, said in a video call.
None of this is tangled in atomic fission, which drives today’s nuclear power projects and generates energy by separating heavy nuclei. Molecular fission produces less energy than nuclear fusion and produces radioactive waste products, which do not fuse.
Both ITER and Spark rely on a machine called Tokmax, first invented in the 1950s, which limits superheated plasma made up of particles that can interact to produce fusion reactions. Tokmax is built into the torus, which is just a geometric way of telling the shape of the donut. Tokmax is not the only machine made for fusion: there are also stellar ones, which are similar to Tokmax but more curved. If Tokmak is a donut, a stellar is a crawler.
Devices are created to create a magnetic field to contain the plasma that makes fusion possible. The magnets that have recently appeared in the news (ITER’s super-large and SPARC’s relatively small) are part of the tokamak and are used to limit plasma, keeping them out of contact with normal matter. Inside the tokamak, the plasma is reminiscent of a cotton candy shaped; Over time, we can see a pleasing array of blues, purples, and pinks in ongoing physics. (This is not normally seen, but the COMPASS Tokamak in Prague – a Tokamak with a camera inside.)