Science & Technology
Oxfordshire scientists report nuclear fusion breakthrough
By T.K. Randall
February 9, 2022 · 4 comments
Fusion power is still a long way off, but progress is being made. Image Credit: UKAEA
A nuclear fusion experiment in England has reported a 'huge step' forward in its quest to produce limitless energy.
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.
Physicists have been attempting to build a working nuclear fusion reactor for the purpose of energy generation for over 60 years, however success has always remained tantalizingly out of reach.
Now though, scientists at the Joint European Torus (JET) experiment in Oxfordshire, England have announced that they have successfully achieved 59 megajoules of heat (the equivalent of 14kg of TNT) during a five-second burst of fusion, smashing their previous record in the process.
"These landmark results have taken us a huge step closer to conquering one of the biggest scientific and engineering challenges of them all," said Prof Ian Chapman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority.
"It's clear we must make significant changes to address the effects of climate change, and fusion offers so much potential."
As always, however, the dream of nuclear fusion is unlikely to be realized anytime soon, with a much larger nuclear fusion project being built in the south of France not due to begin operating until 2035.
Even so, if nuclear fusion power finally does become a reality, it should create a much better tomorrow - a world in which unlimited, clean energy will be available to everyone.
Source: The Guardian
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