Electricity is essential to our everyday lives, but the way we generate electricity with the burning of fossil fuels isn’t particularly suitable for the environment. That’s why scientists are working toward breakthroughs in clean energy generation.
While we could use solar panels and windmills to power the things, we use every day, a more effective means of powering our lives would involve harnessing the power of the Sun, not by collecting its sunlight, but rather by reproducing the reaction inside the Sun known as fusion.
Fusion would be the ideal way to generate power because it doesn’t create harmful byproducts and it would be sustainable. But this also means creating an artificial star, and that’s much harder than it sounds.
We’re a long way from replicating the power of the Sun here on Earth, but with specialized machines called tokamaks, we’re getting closer. These machines harness the power of magnetic fields to generate super-hot temperatures inside, and this can lead to fusion.
In a recent experiment, China fired up its Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) machine and produced fusion for up to 10 seconds, and the plasma inside reached temperatures up to 6 times hotter than the Sun’s core.
Albeit a captivating proof of concept, we’re not any closer to sustaining the world’s power grid via fusion. Doing so will require a much larger unit, longer sustained fusion, and extreme power efficiency breakthroughs.