Clean, Endless Fusion Power Now Only 15 Years Away. Maybe

  • Clean, Endless Fusion Power Now Only 15 Years Away. Maybe

Clean, Endless Fusion Power Now Only 15 Years Away. Maybe

But after more than half a century and research costs in the billions, no one has managed to make fusion reactors work - not even MIT, which has built three experimental fusion reactors.

The team's approach - which has attracted US$50 million thus far - is based on a generation of high-temperature superconductors that has become commercially available in the last several years, researchers from MIT and its partner, Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) in Cambridge, said on 8 March.

The venture's stated goal is to demonstrate the viability of commercial fusion power plants within 15 years.

The promise of harnessing fusion energy is limitless, safe, zero-carbon energy.

"At the heart of today's news is a big idea - a credible, viable plan to achieve net positive energy for fusion", she said.

These fusion projects are the latest in a line of MIT-Eni collaborations on low- and no-carbon energy projects. Decades of disappointment in the field has led to the joke that fusion is the energy of the future - and always will be.

Prof Howard Wilson, a plasma physicist at York University who works on different fusion projects, said: "The exciting part of this is the high-field magnets". One of the key elements of the fusion pilot plant now being studied at LIFT is the liquid immersion blanket, essentially a flowing pool of molten salt that completely surrounds the fusion energy core. When hydrogen atoms are squeezed hard enough, they fuse together to make helium, liberating vast amounts of energy in the process.

MIT scientists believe their device, dubbed SPARC, will generate ten times more energy within a decade.

One of the projects PSFC and Eni intend to carry out will study the effects of high magnetic fields on molten salt fluid dynamics.

Eni is an inaugural, founding member of the MIT Energy Initiative, and it was through their engagement with MITEI that they became aware of the fusion technology commercialization being pursued by CFS and its huge potential for revolutionizing the energy system.

There's also an multibillion-dollar fusion research effort known as ITER, which is building an experimental reactor in France with support from 35 nations, including the United States.

However, the huge heat produced by the experimental reactor will not be used to create electricity just yet. The team says it will produce, in pulses of about 10 seconds, as much power as is used by a small city.

Zach Hartwig, an assistant professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, said in an interview with MIT News that the basic science behind Sparc had been paid for with federal government funding, but it was necessary to find private money to pay for its development as technology. By GCR Staff0 CommentsThe Massachusetts Institute of Technology has announced a breakthrough in fusion power that could lead to a commercial station coming on line in as little 15 years, thereby realising a way to generate electrical power from an inexhaustible fuel with nearly no environmental consequences.

In its final run in 2016, Alcator C-Mod set a new world record for plasma pressure, the key ingredient to producing net energy from fusion. He added, "We are pleased and excited to pursue such a challenging goal with a collaborator like MIT, with unparalleled experience in the field and a long-standing and fruitful alliance with Eni".

Other fruits of MIT-Eni collaborations include research into carbon capture systems to be installed in cars, wearable technologies to improve workplace safety, energy storage, and the conversion of carbon dioxide into fuel.