By Deniz Yalcin
Tech & Innovation Writer
Imagine a world with cheap, abundant, and clean energy. For the past sixty years it has been a struggle of the smartest physicists to harness energy from nuclear fusion due to the enormous amount of heat necessary to combine hydrogen atoms. However, as of Feb. 2016, signs of progress have been made from labs in Germany and China.
What is nuclear fusion anyway and why is it so important? Nuclear fusion, according to sciencealert.com, “…involves producing huge amounts of energy when [hydrogen] atoms are fused together at incredibly high temperatures, but produces no radioactive waste and or other unwanted byproducts.” Currently, nuclear fission is the most popular source of energy, which requires much less heat to create. To produce energy from nuclear fusion, reactors must replicate and achieve energies much greater than what is estimated to exist at the center of the sun. What is most important about nuclear fusion is the fact that it has the chance to produce nearly an endless amount of energy and can infinitely decrease the impact energy production has on the Earth’s environment.
The point nuclear fusion is at now is the most important. German scientists have successfully been able to produce and sustain hydrogen plasma for the first time. The next steps for these scientists are to hit a temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius and to sustain this temperature for 1,000 seconds (17 minutes). Just recently, German scientists managed to heat hydrogen gas to 80 million degrees Celsius and sustain hydrogen plasma for a quarter of a second. The achievement may seem small, comparing to the end goal, however it is a stepping stone that nuclear fusion research has not seen for years. Through this consistent research and hard work, the world is one step closer to nearly infinite and clean energy.
So how does the future look? It sure is bright. Dr. Kingham is the CEO of Tokamak Energy, which is a leading company in the production of Tokamak machines; Tokamak machines are devices used to produce nuclear fusion. According to express.co.uk, Dr. Kingham states that Tokamak Energy could get the first production of nuclear fusion electricity by 2025. Furthermore, he states that the energy created from that production could finally charge the grid simply 5 years later, in 2030. Even better, this source of energy production has the potential of creating a lot of new jobs. Thinking further into the future, Dr. Kingham is even willing to bet that the major source of electricity in the world will be nuclear fusion by 2050.
Nuclear fusion is ultimately not just for us and the Earth, but for the future of humanity as a whole. As of now, there are many obstacles in the way of creating nuclear fusion energy, however scientists are hard at work at attempting to turn what seemed like a dream over half a century ago, to something that is a reality. Think of all the deeds that limitless and clean energy can do for the world and humanity, and you are simply part of a world that may just possibly exist in thirty-five years.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 23rd print edition.
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