A new world record has been set at the Joint European Torus laboratory in Great Britain, where more energy than ever was produced by nuclear fusion in an experiment, reports the BBC.
laser device used in nuclear fusion 01 PHOTO jpg PHOTO euro-fusion.org
The result was obtained following the last experiment of the laboratory, after more than 40 years of research in the field of fusion, and the researchers involved declared that “we have achieved things that have not been done before”.
Nuclear fusion is the process that powers the Sun, in fact all active stars, and which scientists say could produce vast amounts of energy without heating the Earth's atmosphere. It is produced by heating and forcing small particles together to create heavier particles that release useful energy.
When nuclear fusion is perfected and scaled up, endless amounts of clean, carbon-free energy can be produced. And unlike wind and solar power, it would not depend on weather conditions. But it's clearly not that simple, as Dr Aneeqa Khan, a nuclear fusion researcher at the University of Manchester, explained. “For atoms to fuse together on Earth, we need temperatures ten times higher than the Sun, around 100 million degrees Celsius, and a sufficiently high density of atoms for a sufficiently long period of time “she explained.
In UK experiments, 69 megajoules of energy were produced in five seconds. Although this is only enough for four to five hot baths, as the researchers joked, it is a new record. Although there is still a long way to go before nuclear fusion power plants, which could solve the climate crisis, every step brings us closer to this dream.
Prof. Ambrogio Fasoli, program manager at EUROfusion, said: “Our successful demonstration … increases confidence in the development of fusion energy. Beyond setting a new record, we've achieved things we've never done before and deepened our understanding of the physics of fusion.”
Head of the Space, Plasma and Climate Research Community at Imperial College London, Professor Stuart Mangles, emphasized the importance of international collaboration. “The new results from the latest JET test are very interesting. This result really highlights the power of international collaboration. It would not have been possible without the work of hundreds of scientists and engineers from all over Europe” – he said.
The Joint European Torus (JET) facility was built at Culham in Oxford in the late 1970s and until late last year was the world's most advanced experimental fusion reactor. Although located in the UK, it was mainly funded by the EU's nuclear research programme, Euratom, and operated by the UK Atomic Energy Agency.
The reactor was only supposed to be operational for about a decade, but repeated successes extended its life. The result announced today is triple that obtained in similar tests in 1997.
JET's Euratom successor is a facility called ITER, which will be based in France. It was planned to be put into operation in 2016 and was estimated to cost about 5 billion euros, but its price has increased by about four times, and its commissioning has been delayed until 2025. Currently, experiments at scale wide are not foreseen until at least 2035.