Iter explain how the nuclear fusion project will begin its assembly
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Experts have been racing to develop nuclear fusion technology for nearly 60 years ever since it was first pioneered by Soviet Union scientists. The technology has been tipped to produce cheap, clean energy by recreating the fusion process that takes place inside the sun. Private companies are desperate to develop the technology as soon as possible to commercialise years of public research and get fusion power onto the grid by 2030.
One of those companies is British firm Tokamak Energy.
Tokamak Energy is using an industrial estate in Didcot, just outside Oxford, to conduct a nuclear fusion experiment by trying to create hotter temperatures than the Sun.
Nuclear fusion works by forcing hydrogen atoms to fuse, and as result produces helium and a vast amount of energy.
But making a viable commercial reactor to perform this function has proved difficult for scientists.
Luckily, a ton of private investment has poured into companies like Tokamak Energy, which is making huge progress in creating the high temperatures required to create nuclear fusion.
The company has built a machine that can create the hottest place in the solar system, firing up 140,000 amps of electricity into a cloud of hydrogen gas which takes it up to 50million degrees Celsius.
But the next step of the process involves generating more energy than it puts in.
Chris Kelsall, Tokamak Energy CEO, said that it is looking likely that this will be figured out.
He told BBC News: “It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.
“We will crack it, the answer is out there right now with Mother Nature as we speak.
“What we have to do is find that key and unlock the safe to that solution, it will be found.”
Dr Hannah Willlett, a physicist at Tokamak Energy, explained why finding this answer is so important.
She told BBC News: “It’s much cleaner, and a lot more efficient.
“You get a lot more energy out this reaction than out of just burning fossil fuels.”
In fact, scientists estimate that just one glass of the fuel created by the process has the energy potential of 1million gallons of oil and could generate, depending on the fusion approach, as much as 9million kilowatt hours of electricity.
That is enough to power a home for more than 800 years, according to scientists.
Andrew Holland, chief executive of the Fusion Industry Association, counts the number of private businesses in the sector worldwide, of which there are 35.
He said it is only a matter of time before we see fusion in action.
He told the Financial Times: “Fusion is coming, faster than you expect.”
Bob Mumgaard, chief executive of Commonwealth Fusion Systems, has compared the breakthrough of nuclear fusion with the evolution of computing.
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He told the Financial Times: “Computers, back when they had vacuum tubes, took up whole rooms.
“Then when they had transistors you could make the computers smaller and, all of a sudden, people that weren’t doing computers could do computers,”
“Fusion has so many really desirable attributes, if you think about what is required for the entire world to live in the way people deserve to live and to also have a liveable planet.”
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