MAY 15, 2017 07:08 AM PDT

Tokamak Fusion Reactor Aims to Replicate the Energy of the Sun

The Sun produces more energy than anything else in our Solar System, and it does so through a process dubbed nuclear fusion, during which two atomic nuclei of one kind combine together to form a different kind of atomic nuclei.

The Sun is a giant glowing sphere of nuclear fusion.

Image Credit: NASA

Our Sun uses its supply of hydrogen gas at its core to carry out nuclear fusion. The hydrogen nuclei are compressed so much that they eventually combine and become helium. Nuclei continue to combine until the point of creating iron, which doesn’t feed nuclear fusion efficiently enough to produce energy as hydrogen and the lighter elements do.

The production of energy through nuclear fusion is something mankind has been trying to reproduce on Earth for decades, but hasn’t been truly successful at. While we appear to be able to produce nuclear fusion for short periods of time, we can’t seem to sustain it for long periods of time. This is the real challenge.

Nuclear fusion produces energy both cleanly and efficiently, and if we could harness it, we would be able to power our cities sustainably without the harmful effects on the environment that current methods, like nuclear fission, do. While that’s the main goal, the road to get there has been nothing short of difficult.

On the other hand, the Tokamak ST40 fusion reactor in the United Kingdom hopes to drive mankind to the next era by being the most successful fusion reactor ever created to date.

Will Tokamak change the world by providing nuclear fusion here on Earth?

Image Credit: Tokamak Energy

Tokamak, the company behind ST40, was reportedly able to produce its first plasma with the reactor and the firm is feeling pretty good about their design and achievements; so much so that they think they can achieve efficient fusion power in years rather than decades. The current estimate is being put around 2025-2030.

Tokamak produces low pressure plasma inside of their ST40 fusion reactor.

Image Credit: Tokamak Energy

"We are unveiling the first world-class controlled fusion device to have been designed, built and operated by a private venture. The ST40 is a machine that will show fusion temperatures - 100 million degrees - are possible in compact, cost-effective reactors. This will allow fusion power to be achieved in years, not decades."

Related: A simpler way to create Fusion power?

By using incredibly strong magnetic coils, the goal is to control plasma for long periods of time under extreme pressures and heat, just like the Sun does. By the end of 2017, Tokamak hopes to produce temperatures of 27 million degrees Fahrenheit with ST40. Then, by 2018, they want to step things up 180 million degrees Fahrenheit.

While ST40 hasn’t reached these insane temperatures just yet, if it can, then we might finally be able to harness the power of nuclear fusion here on Earth and utilize it to our advantage.

One thing Tokamak is doing differently from other attempts in the past is they’re taking baby steps towards the final goal, which reduces costs and helps the firm to perfect simple processes on the road to nuclear fusion, one at a time.

It should be super interesting to see whether or not the venture will be successful since nuclear fusion has the means to completely change the world. There’s certainly still a long road ahead of us before it becomes a mainstream source of power on Earth, but the future looks bright so far.

Source: Science Alert, BBC

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 17, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 17, 2019
SpaceX's Starhopper Prototype Makes First Untethered Flight
SpaceX made significant progress on its deep-space Starhopper starship project last week after a prototype of the spacecraft’s rocket conducted its f...
OCT 17, 2019
OCT 17, 2019
Smartphone-controlled brains?
A team of scientists in Korea and the United States have developed a tiny, flexible, wireless device that can control neurons and neural circuits in the mo...
OCT 17, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
OCT 17, 2019
The Internet Has Helped Diagnose Some Rare Diseases
Often maligned as a source of bad info, and with good reason, the internet has also helped people find answers....
OCT 17, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
OCT 17, 2019
Will Cannabis Facilities Pollute the Air?
The strong smell of cannabis comes from chemicals that could potentially cause indoor or outdoor air pollution, if not properly managed, a new study finds....
OCT 17, 2019
OCT 17, 2019
Unlock Your Smartphone with Earbuds?
Visit any public space from coffee shops to the library and you will come across multiple people wearing earbuds or earphones. This inspired computer scien...
OCT 17, 2019
OCT 17, 2019
Telescope technology takes first accurate images of glaucoma-related eye structure
Using the same tools designed to observe the stars, vision scientists at Indiana University have taken the first accurate microscopic images of the trabecu...
Loading Comments...