It generates more and more energy, but there is still a problem that no one can overcome

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It generates more and more energy, but there is still a problem that no one can overcome

Inside the UK’s Joint European Torus (JET) Institute, a nuclear fusion reactor It set an energy record when it reached 69 megajoules, By the beginning of 2022, the limit that JET had reached was 22 megajoules, this was the same case as the United States Department of Energy (DOE), which recorded a maximum of three megajoules in late 2022.

This is a huge step towards a world with unlimited nuclear fusion energy. JET has shown really significant progress, surpassing DOE by approximately seven times. However a problem remains.

Fusion

This is the challenge of nuclear energy generated from fusion. Until now, it has not been possible to obtain more energy than is required to produce fusion., This challenge is known in English as “ignition” or “break-even”.

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Atomic representation.

To generate energy through fusion, at least two nuclei such as deuterium and tritium need to combine and form a heavier nucleus, releasing a large amount of energy in the process. However, more energy is produced than is expended to initiate the reaction and maintain fusion. A technical and intellectual challenge too complex.

One of the challenges scientists must overcome to find an efficient nuclear fusion system is the balance between pressure and temperature. For nuclear fusion to occur, nuclei must collide at a speed that exceeds the electrical repulsion between them, one of the fundamental forces of nature. This requires really high temperatures, on the order of millions of degrees Celsius, which increases the pressure.

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Besides, Energy loss is also important, During fusion energy leaks in the form of radiation and particles. These disadvantages need to be overcome by maintaining the plasma at high density and temperature conditions for the time required to achieve fusion, in such a way that the energy released by fusion exceeds the energy consumed to maintain the process. Go.

Fragmentation

Krokus reactor in Switzerland.

To date, this limit has not been crossed and the energy required for fusion continues to exceed the energy released by impact. In other words, the point has not yet been reached where nuclear fusion is a complete energy source.

Other than this, Nuclear fusion is considered cleaner and safer than fission., For starters, fusion uses reaction products like helium and hydrogen, which are abundant and relatively easy to manipulate. Additionally, these materials are safer than the fuels used for fission, such as uranium and plutonium, which are difficult to obtain.

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From a safety point of view, nuclear fission can cause an uncontrolled chain reaction leading to disasters such as Chernobyl or Fukushima. Fusion reactors cannot produce that reaction and do not produce highly radioactive byproducts that contaminate the environment. Therefore, achieving efficient nuclear fusion would be a milestone for modern physics, without forgetting that it would be a truly effective and commercially viable source of clean energy.

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