Scientists in the United Kingdom said they have achieved a new milestone in producing nuclear fusion energy, or imitating the way energy is produced in the sun.
- Energy by nuclear fusion is one of mankind’s long standing quests as it promises to be low carbon, safer than how nuclear energy is now produced and, with an efficiency that can technically exceed a 100%.
- A team at the Joint European Torus (JET) facility near Oxford in central England generated 59 megajoules of sustained energy during an experiment in December, more than doubling a 1997 record, the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority said.
- A kilogram of fusion fuel contains about 10 million times as much energy as a kilogram of coal, oil or gas.
- The energy was produced in a machine called a tokamak, a doughnut-shaped apparatus. The JET site is the largest operational one of its kind in the world.
- Deuterium and tritium, which are isotopes of hydrogen, are heated to temperatures 10 times hotter than the centre of the sun to create plasma. This is held in place using superconductor electromagnets as it spins around, fuses and releases tremendous energy as heat.
- The record and scientific data from these crucial experiments are a major boost for the ITER, the larger and more advanced version of the JET.
- The ITER is a fusion research mega-project supported by seven members — China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the U.S. — and based in the south of France.
- It seeks to further demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy.