We have a stake in electricity because our batteries need an outside source to charge. We are passionate supporters of green energy generation. Although we do understand that it needs to compete with nuclear and fossil in terms of production cost, to sustain. There is a third option in the wings, nuclear fusion, though this has been a stubborn pipe dream. We explore this further, as we wonder whether China has the nuclear fusion key in its hands.
How Nuclear Fusion Works, in Principle
When two smaller atoms become a single larger one, nuclear fusion has taken place. This occurs naturally in the hearts of stars, and releases unimaginably large amounts of energy.
Some of the original mass becomes energy when we cause this to happen artificially too. Albert Einstein expressed what happens when mass becomes energy, or energy changes into mass as E=mc2. This is one of the two pillars of modern physics, However, the difficulty to date has been getting nuclear fusion to generate electricity safely in an energy-efficient way.
Will the Chinese Achieve this Dream on Science Island?
There is a place called Science Island in Eastern China’s Anhui Province. There, best scientists have installed an experimental superconducting tokamak magnetic fusion energy reactor inside a box as large as a two-story apartment.
Since 2009, they have been fusing hydrogen atoms into helium in a manner similar to what happens in the stars. Then they control the reaction – similar to what ignites an atom bomb – with powerful magnets. They have managed to hold it steady for 100 seconds. Now they are talking about generating one hundred million degrees celsius for ten times longer.
The deputy director of the project told BBC News on 18 April 2018, “Magnetic confinement is controllable fusion. I can shut down the power supply and it’s perfectly safe. There won’t be any nuclear disaster” with nuclear fusion, he promised.
Preview Image: Fusion Concept
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