It looks like MIT’s fusion reactor has reached a new milestone in the sustainable nuclear energy race.
Access to an almost limitless supply of cheap and pure energy may not just be the stuff of Utopia. We may in fact be closer to this goal than we think. A team of researchers in the United States set a record as far as nuclear fusion is concerned recently.
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They virtually shattered the erstwhile record for plasma pressure. This happens to be one of the central concepts in the fusion process. Now this process has been shifted inch by inch closer and closer towards a proper bonanza of unlimited energy.
Although employing nuclear fusion to provide the energy in homes and offices may not be possible right now, the using up of star-like fuel may be a possibility we will be gradually able to harness for the betterment of mankind.
It is not just the achievement of the fusion reaction but its containment that is the crux of the matter. Nuclear fusion is the cleanest source of energy and it follows the same process that takes place inside the sun from which we receive so much solar energy everyday.
By utilizing extreme heat, magnetic force fields and tons of pressure, the atomic nuclei of light elements are fused together. This in turn creates heavier elements. Energy is given off as a side effect. It is this energy that can be used to power entire cities.
Special reactors are needed to contain this star-like process. Hydrogen is fused to create helium and energy escapes in the end. Once such a form of energy is harnessed, our dependence upon fossil fuels will be a thing of the past.
For the reaction to take place, intensely-heated gas in a plasma state has a lot of pressure brought upon it. This act causes the atoms to collide at close quarters and ultimately they fuse with each other after the nuclear fusion reaction.
The work for this new record was done at MIT. The previous record was surpassed by 15% which is indeed quite an accomplishment. The extreme pressure was achieved by using the custom Alcator-C Mod Tokamak reactor.
The reaction was contained within a fixed volume. The temperature inside the reactor reached 35 million degrees Celsius which is twice the temperature found within the core of the sun.
Hundreds of trillions of fusion reactions took place inside the Tokamak reactor for each second that the process remained extant. It is quite a wonderful act that reminds us that science still holds a few cards up its sleeves.
Nuclear fusion has the potential to produce nearly unlimited supplies of clean, safe, carbon-free energy. This 360-degree tour provides look at MIT’s recently deactivated Alcator C-Mod tokamak nuclear fusion reactor, which set a world pressure record on its final day of operation. Video: MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center