JUL 18, 2018 1:36 PM PDT

Star energy powering our planet?

Talk about a new form of clean energy! UK-based nuclear fusion company, Tokamak Energy, is in the process of developing a technology that could one day use the energy of piping-hot hydrogen plasma with a mega-reactor called ST40 to light up our world.

The ST40 fusion reactor has already heated hydrogen plasma to 27 million degrees Fahrenheit – i.e. hotter than the sun! (Though how scientists even go about measuring such temperatures is beyond me – this summer humidity is hot enough for me, thank you very much!) The reactor uses a doughnut-shaped vacuum chamber to confine the plasma so that fusion can happen inside it. Media company Syfy Wire explains that during this process, hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium are exposed to huge quantities of heat and pressure which takes electrons from nuclei and results in a plasma. At high temperatures like those that Tokamak Energy is experimenting with, plasma particles can fuse and release energy. This is where the “star power” comes in.

“We are taking significant steps towards achieving fusion energy and doing so with the agility of a private venture, driven by the goal of achieving something that will have huge benefits worldwide,” said Tokamak Energy CEO John Carling. “Our aim is to make fusion energy a commercial reality by 2030.”

Photo: The Conversation

The ultimate goal behind this complex process is to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels and other non-sustainable energy sources. Tokamak Energy co-founder Dr. David Kingham stated: “Fusion is a major challenge, but one that must be tackled. We believe that with collaboration, dedication and investment, fusion will be an important part of achieving deep decarbonization of the global energy supply in the 2030s and beyond.”

But in order to get those plasma particles to fuse and start releasing energy, the scientists have to reach even higher temperatures: up to 212 million degrees Fahrenheit. And that, alas, is still some time and a lot more research in the future.

Sources: Syfy Wire

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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