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Science & Technology

Germany conducts nuclear fusion experiment

By T.K. Randall
February 4, 2016 · Comment icon 23 comments



Nuclear fusion is what powers the sun. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
A future powered by clean, limitless nuclear fusion energy has taken another step forward this week.
Often seen as the Holy Grail of power generation, nuclear fusion is the same process that produces energy in the sun and works by fusing hydrogen nuclei together to create helium.

Unlike nuclear fission which comes with the inherent risk of a meltdown, fusion is much cleaner and safer while the hydrogen fuel used by the process is so abundant that it is practically limitless.

Scientists have been working on building a sustainable nuclear fusion reactor for years and while that goal has yet to be achieved, progress is still being made in several key areas.
This week a new experiment was carried out at the Max Planck Institute in Greifswald which saw a group of scientists, accompanied by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, inject hydrogen in to the Wendelstein 7-X fusion device which heated the gas in to plasma for a brief moment.

While the device did not produce electricity in this instance, the experiment is only the first of many designed to determine whether this particular design of nuclear fusion reactor can generate power.

"With a temperature of 80 million degrees and a lifetime of a quarter of a second, the deviceís first hydrogen plasma has completely lived up to our expectations," said scientist Hans-Stephan Bosch.

The milestone achieved might be small, but it does help move us one step closer to a world where an unlimited supply of clean, affordable and sustainable energy will be available to everyone.

Source: Christian Science Monitor | Comments (23)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #14 Posted by toast 7 years ago
At least one egghead outed himself within the last 5 posts.
Comment icon #15 Posted by hellwyr 7 years ago
How is it possible to create more energy out if energy, doesnt energy equal energy (As far as I remember from school) where does the aditional energy come from.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Harte 7 years ago
leftover mass from when the atoms fuse. Mass = energy. Harte
Comment icon #17 Posted by Uncle Sam 7 years ago
leftover mass from when the atoms fuse. Mass = energy. Harte Humanity has yet to fully tap into the full nuclear energy output. Matter the size of a pen could out several city blocks if exploded with 100% matter conversion to energy. I think a combination of nuclear fission and fusion would actually give us unlimited amount of energy. One breaking apart atoms and the other forcing them together.
Comment icon #18 Posted by DONTEATUS 7 years ago
We are Indeed near a Real Break through ~ If we can control ourselfs long enough for this to play out We might in the Next twenty years Have Free Energy ! Or Really Close to Free ! Please mankind ! Do this For Us !
Comment icon #19 Posted by Harte 7 years ago
Humanity has yet to fully tap into the full nuclear energy output. Matter the size of a pen could out several city blocks if exploded with 100% matter conversion to energy. I think a combination of nuclear fission and fusion would actually give us unlimited amount of energy. One breaking apart atoms and the other forcing them together. You couldn't use the same atoms. Also, the 100% conversion you're talking about involves antimatter. It costs way too much to produce antimatter. All of the antiprotons created at Fermilabís Tevatron particle accelerator add up to only 15 nanograms. Those made a... [More]
Comment icon #20 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy 7 years ago
Humanity has yet to fully tap into the full nuclear energy output. Matter the size of a pen could out several city blocks if exploded with 100% matter conversion to energy. I think you are thinking of anti-matter here and we have been able to make that for decades, but it takes a lot more energy to make the anti-matter that will ever get out of it. Even with the best avilable technologies you will have to expend millions of times more energy to make anti-matter than the energy contained in the anti-matter. On top of that anti-matter have the slight disadvantage that it explosively converts bac... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by Merc14 7 years ago
I think you are thinking of anti-matter here and we have been able to make that for decades, but it takes a lot more energy to make the anti-matter that will ever get out of it. Even with the best avilable technologies you will have to expend millions of times more energy to make anti-matter than the energy contained in the anti-matter. On top of that anti-matter have the slight disadvantage that it explosively converts back into pure enegy when it contacts matter, any matter. So good luck trying to store it ! Once you have mastered fusion, why would you bother with fission any more ? The only... [More]
Comment icon #22 Posted by joonmoon999 7 years ago
Scary.
Comment icon #23 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy 7 years ago
Scary. Why ? Have you heard anything about that Lockheed Martin project that was a big deal the middle of last year? Unfortunately not. I wouldn't be surprised if it have hit some unexpected snag in development, afterall virtually every fusion project have. They often start out making great progress in the research phase, only to run into problems when they try to make it a working powerplant, hence the ond saying "fusion have been just a decade away for the last 50 years". Another very appropriate saying could be "So close, yet so far away". On the other hand I wish them, and every other fusi... [More]


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