Why Nuclear Fusion Is Always 30 Years Away

In the 1920s, Arthur Eddington a physicist from England theorized the existence of nuclear fusion. Close to one century later the world is still trying to figure how it can be able to maximize the use the use of nuclear fusion in the production of energy. Fusion to the common man who lacks deep physicist knowledge is like taking two isotopes of hydrogen and using a big force you smash them together. The two atoms in turn are able to overcome their natural repulsion and later on fuse.

The fusion causes a reaction that produces a large amount of energy. Over the years researches have been done to determine the energizing levels of the hydrogen as it reaches higher temperatures. Germany has the latest discoveries in nuclear fusion experiments, the Wendelstein 7-X reactor was posted online after going through a successful test being able to reach an impressive 180 million degrees, China’s East Reactor had lower temperatures though it was able to sustain fusion plasma.

The two experiments received positive feedback from physicists around the world. Though considered as baby steps, they indeed show that the world has made progressive advancements in the field of nuclear fusion. According to Mark Herrmann, director of the National Ignition facility located in California, all these steps made in the East reactor and the Wendelstein-7 show that we are still learning what science is by eliminating perturbations. ITER is one of the facilities in the US that has focused on the study of nuclear fusion. But then ITER has faced several setbacks that have slowed down its projects, the most recent being the US government refusing to continue to fund their projects.

Simple science shows that for one to generate energy from a nuclear fusion, first you have to inject it with enough energy that will be able to catalyze the fusion at a very meaningful rate. After doing this you have to make sure that the burning plasma is contained in a secure environment so that it doesn’t experience any instability hence making the reaction to fizzle. Joint European Torus (JET) is the largest fusion reactor in the planet Earth. It’s based in England and is supported by the European Union.

On the other hand, ITER plans on producing 500 MW of power with a mere input of 50 MW. This will be able to make ITER the most powerful nuclear fusion reactor in the world. From the 1980 the world has experienced many upgrades in the nuclear fusion reactors. The anticipated energy from ITER will be enough to power close to 50000 households. ITER plan on utilizing technology developed by the JET and using it to upgrade the nuclear fusion reactions they are working on. It’s more like a scientific collaboration. 

ITER alone is not capable of providing enough energy to supply the global need of energy. That’s why the collaboration of ITER and Jet is very important. The project is expected to have a price tag of $15 billion. Each member country is expected to send one of their researchers since it’s a project of multiple countries. This is simply a global partnership in order to achieve a common goal in the nuclear energy sector.