MAY 15, 2017 7:08 AM PDT

Tokamak Fusion Reactor Aims to Replicate the Energy of the Sun

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

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
NOV 17, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 17, 2019
Hayabusa-2 Departs Ryugu Asteroid to Return to Earth with Samples
It’s been just over a year since JAXA’s renowned Hayabusa-2 mission arrived at asteroid 162173 Ryugu to study the dynamics of the distant space...
DEC 01, 2019
Earth & The Environment
DEC 01, 2019
Reducing GHG emissions of the transportation sector
The United States Environmental Protection Agency reported that the highest greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 were in the transportation sector, making up a...
DEC 22, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
DEC 22, 2019
Learning More About Cell Dynamics with Holo-Tomographic Microscopy
A new microscopy technique called holo-tomographic microscopy can generate 3D images and does not require labeling....
DEC 20, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
DEC 20, 2019
Beware Twitter Bots Spreading False Cannabis Claims
Twitter bots (accounts controlled by software instead of people) are spreading false claims about the medical uses of cannabis, a new study in the American...
JAN 20, 2020
Technology
JAN 20, 2020
Online Program Improves Bilingual Education
  Knowing more than one language has been associated with lifelong advantages including the enhancement of communication skills to boosting profession...
FEB 17, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
FEB 17, 2020
Engineering a Genome
Scientists are learning more about how to use the genetic code to make a synthetic genome with specific biological functions....
Loading Comments...