Experiments at the world’s largest fusion reactor, in Europe, culminated on Wednesday with the announcement that the Joint European Torus device set a record for power generation through fusion, which is the same process that lights our sun.
The breakthrough came on December 21, when JET produced a pulse of 59 megajoules of energy in five seconds. That pulse is enough energy to power the average home for about half a day.
It’s also twice as powerful and one second longer than the previous record set by it device in 1997. While in 2018 it was possible to reach temperatures higher than the sun itself.
“If we can hold the fusion for five seconds, we can hold it for five minutes and then five hours as we scale up our operations on future machines,” Tony Donné, director, said in a statement. of the EuroFusion program.
One of the envisioned future fusion engines is the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) being built in France. ITER, which is expected to start its experiments in 2025, is similar to JET but on a much larger scale.
Fusion energy has been the holy grail of physicists and environmentalists for decades. Its promise is nothing less than abundant, clean energy that could, in theory, do wonders for the double energy crisis and environmental damage that is currently destroying us.
Another experiment with lasers at California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was able to generate almost two megajoules in a fraction of a second last year.
The world’s first green nuclear reactor is being built by China and will see the light of day in 2030
The main obstacle to fusion remains that it requires more energy than it produces, which makes it totally unfeasible right now. But Donné says net positive fusion could come soon.
“The experience we have gained under realistic conditions gives us great confidence for the next phase of experiments at ITER and at the demonstration plant European Union DEMO, which is being designed to put electricity on the grid“, he explains.
If this is so, in a few years we should be able to take advantage of the almost infinite energy that they will produce our miniature suns. Hopefully it will come soon, the future of our planet depends on it.