Nuclear fusion technology could power low-carbon goals in the decades ahead and could provide the globe with a solution to creating a viable future clean energy source.
Development is seen as a carbon-free, safe, and sustainable answer to power the world’s future energy supply, as uses no greenhouses gas emission and abundant fuels and is seen by scientists a route to developing greener nuclear power.
Nuclear fusion energy is based on the same principle as to how stars create heat and light. Fusion is the process by which the sun generates energy and using the sun.
This is different from the traditional nuclear approach in it attempts to fuse atoms together rather than splitting them, although getting atoms to fuse at temperatures several times hotter than the surface of the sun is proving a huge technological challenge for scientists.
What we see as light and feel as warmth is the result of a fusion reaction: hydrogen nuclei collide, fuse into heavier helium atoms, and release vast amounts of energy.
Current nuclear energy relies on fission, where a heavy chemical element is split to produce lighter ones. Nuclear fusion works by combining two light elements to make a heavier one, releasing vast amounts of energy with little radioactivity.
Development of nuclear fusion energy is a challenging process, but a new partnership signed between General Fusion and the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) will look to make strides solving some of the puzzles.
As part of the agreement, a Fusion Demonstration Plant (FDP) is to be built at the UKAEA Culham Campus (pictured), Oxfordshire, home to the UK’s national fusion research programme, where collaboration will take place on the development of fusion. Construction is expected to begin sometime in 2022, with operations set to start in 2025.
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