A viable nuclear fusion reactor could be made possible by 2025. The possibility came after the completion of seven new studies, which were published on September 29 last year, in the Journal of Plasma Physics. If the nuclear fusion reactor comes to life, we, as humans, can live a massive generation of clean energy.
According to the studies, clean energy would be generated during the fusion process, which occurs when atomic nuclei are forced to come together to form heavier atoms. The mass of the resulting atoms is converted into energy, which, when released, emits an extraordinary amount of light and heat.
To force the fusion of the atoms, an enormous amount of energy is needed. This energy in question forms only at temperatures of at least 180 million degrees Fahrenheit (100 million degrees Celsius). However, if this reaction is possible to reproduce, scientists could generate more energy than we need today.
Fortunately, the fusion of atoms does not produce gases capable of intensifying the greenhouse effect, such as, for example, carbon dioxide, which cause global warming. In addition, it also does not generate other pollutants. And the fuel needed to promote the fusion of atoms – like the hydrogen element – is abundant enough, on our planet, to meet all the needs needed to produce energy for all of humanity – and for millions of years.
“Many scientists participated in this research because it is extremely necessary to solve a problem that is global and is really serious,” said study author Martin Greenwald, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a leading scientist who developed ideals for viability of the new reactor. “We want to promote something that favors society. We need a solution for global warming – otherwise, civilization will be in trouble. It seems that this can help to change the current scenario ”.
Most nuclear fusion reactors that are experimental are based on a Russian project called tokamak, which is basically an experimental device designed to confine high temperature plasmas in a toroid-shaped region and thus create fields intense magnets for the atoms to merge.
With the new studies, the scientists were able to develop a new experimental device, called a SPARC reactor (Soonest / Smallest Private-Funded Affordable Robust Compact). The device is being developed by scientists at MIT, in partnership with a subsidiary company, Commonwealth Fusion Systems.
If successful, SPARC will be the first device to promote fusion reactions without the need to pump extra energy. Generally speaking, the SPARC reactor, launched in 2018, begins to come to life in June this year and scientists expect the new reactor to start operating in 2025. The new reactor is estimated to be much faster than the largest fusion energy in the world, which is known as the International Experimental Thermonuclear Reactor (ITER). ITER was conceived in 1985, but only came into use in 2007 and the project, moreover, should not generate a fusion reaction until 2035.
An advantage that SPARC can have over ITER is that SPARC magnets are designed to confine your plasma. SPARC is equipped with so-called high-temperature superconducting magnets, which only became commercially available in the last five years, long after ITER was designed. These new magnets can produce magnetic fields much more powerful than those of ITER – a maximum of 21 teslas, which, compared to ITER, the maximum is 12 teslas.
If everything goes as planned, the researchers hope that the fusion plants will become inspired by SPARC and generate between 250 and 1,000 megawatts of electricity. “In the current energy market in the United States, power plants typically generate between 100 and 500 megawatts,” said Greenwald.