Tokamak Energy wants to introduce Nuclear Fusion Power by 2030

Tokamak Energy wants to introduce Nuclear Fusion Power by 2030

We might get electricity from Nuclear Fusion much earlier than we anticipated.

Nuclear Fusion refers to a reaction where two or more nuclei fuse into each other to produce one or more atomic nuclei and subatomic particles like protons. Massive amounts of energy are released during this process and this accounts for the difference in the mass of the products and the reactants. This process is found abundantly in our universe as it powers Main Sequence and High Magnitude stars including our Sun which falls in the first of these categories. Humanity wants to exploit this procedure for solving the energy crisis in our world but scientists have not achieved much in this regard. Having said that, things might change dramatically in near future as Tokamak Energy, a UK-based nuclear fusion company, has managed to heat the plasma of Hydrogen at 115,000,000o C (hotter than the core of the Sun).

Tokamak Energy wants to be the first company in the world to produce commercial electricity from this medium and they can achieve this feat as early as 2030 following this development. They told the world about this amazing superhot plasma in early June. They also indicated that they will start working on preparing an even hotter plasma whose temperature will be around 100,000,000o C. It will be tested next year and if all of this goes according to plan, the experimental ST40 fusion reactor will attain the required temperatures for a controlled fusion reaction. David Kingham, a Co-founder of the Tokomak Energy, described his feelings in the following words:

It’s been really exciting. It was very good to see the data coming through and being able to get the high-temperature plasmas — probably beyond what we were hoping for.”

As nuclear fusion is the primary source of energy for stars, a nuclear reactor is also known as a ‘Star in a Jar’. Powerful thermonuclear weapons like Hydrogen Bombs are also powered by nuclear fusion as Plutonium fusion devices are used to heat Hydrogen to fusion temperatures. This is the reason why the explosion of a hydrogen bomb is convincingly more powerful than a fission bomb. Tokamak Energy wants to replicate the fusion process taking place inside our Sun but at lower pressures and high temperatures. As smaller quantities of Heavy Hydrogen (deuterium and tritium) can lead to large amounts of electricity, it is expected that all other methods of electricity generation will become obsolete if researchers find a way to succeed with this revolutionary experiment. Kingham presented a numerical image to the world as he said,

Fifty kilograms [110 lbs.] of tritium and 33 kilograms [73 lbs.] of deuterium would produce a gigawatt of electricity for a year.”

Nuclear meltdowns like Chernobyl Disaster could be avoided as the need for fuel will go down considerably. Another benefit of this technique is that it will reduce the highly radioactive waste which is produced by the existing nuclear fission plants. Despite these claims, Daniel Jassby, a Veteran Fusion Researcher, clarified that the proposed fusion reactors will produce substantial amounts of radioactive waste.

Talking about the physical characteristics of the ST40 reactor, Kingham mentioned that they use a compact spherical design with an almost round vacuum chamber. One of the most critical improvement is the use of superconducting magnets that are kept at incredibly high temperatures. They create the necessary magnetic fields to ensure that the walls of the reactor are not damaged by the superhot plasma. Liquid Helium is used to cool these 2.1 meters high electromagnets. Kingham explained the significance of these magnets by praising the advanced magnetic materials which are used to create them. He mentioned that they are cooled to -253.15o C and this is the feature which separates them from the rest of the fusion projects.

Tokamak Energy aims to stand victorious in the race of creating a working fusion reactor which can supply electricity for commercial use. The ITER Fusion Reactor Project of France is their closest known competitor which is expected to create its first plasma by mid-2040s. However, scientists predict that it might take another 10 years for this reactor to support nuclear fusion. Even when it starts operating, it will produce no electricity at all.

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