Nuclear fusion energy is predicted to become a reality by scientists and engineers in the near future. The technology provides nearly infinite, cheap, and clean energy sources. But there are still a few significant technological issues that need to be resolved.
The Issues with Nuclear Fusion
The device will make advantage of the same procedure that releases massive quantities of energy in star cores by converting hydrogen into heavier elements. These reactions take place at extreme pressures and temperatures above 10 million°C (18 million°F), in the “plasma,” or the state in which atoms have lost their electrons.
Replicating these nuclear processes on Earth would need considerably greater temperatures, maybe as high as 100 million°C (180 million°F), due to the lack of high pressures present in star cores.
The key hurdles for fusion energy are heating nuclear fuel to these types of temperatures, properly containing it, preserving its stability, and extracting the energy that results. These challenges have a plethora of competing engineering solutions.
Possible Engineering Solutions
One such method uses high magnetic fields to confine the hot plasma, keeping it firmly in the shape of a doughnut or “toroidal.” In order to raise the pressure, the magnetic fields also squeeze the plasma. Subsequently, a strong electric current is generated within the plasma.
The fuel is additionally exposed to microwaves and/or accelerated particles, raising its temperature until nuclear fusion processes start. The released energy is contained in a “blanket” that envelops the plasma and takes the form of swiftly traveling neutrons.
Current Advancements and Future Outlook
Currently, scientists are able to catch a little quantity of energy and produce fusion energy for brief periods of time. While the study is promising, it could take another thirty years or more before we can completely resolve the engineering problems.
It’s almost a given that nuclear fusion will provide inexpensive fuel from abundant seawater to meet humanity’s energy demands one day. The technique is extremely safe to use and won’t release any radioactive waste, hazardous byproducts, or greenhouse gasses.