The largest nuclear fusion project in the world begun its assembly in July this year which will be completed in five years. It is called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) reactor and was built in France.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said during the launch on July 28, that a disruptive innovation such as the ITER would play an important role in addressing climate change and realizing a sustainable carbon-free world.
Now, scientists in the US and the country's Department of Energy have collaborated on a comprehensive new nuclear fusion plan that represents years of work and cooperation. They said that the success of ITER, or its failure, in the 2030s will have a huge impact on their plans in making America's own nuclear fusion power plant by the 2040s.
What's the New Plan for the Nuclear Fusion Power Plant?
According to a report by Popular Mechanics, the plan of making a nuclear fusion power plant coalesced around the goals of the Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) department under the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that explicitly includes fusion energy goals to: "Advance the fundamental science of magnetically confined plasmas to develop the predictive capability needed for a sustainable fusion energy source."
America is a major contributor to ITER and continues to participate even if some areas of international cooperation is already broken. According to the DoE, the deal of the US with ITER is one of the most leveraged projects in their portfolio.
The planning failed six years ago but the DoE ensures that this time it will not fail by avoiding infighting through open meetings and processes where the scientists could voice out their goals and concerns, according to a report by Science magazine.
Researchers have already been using growing fusion technology to help identify gaps in the near-future technology. As the first combined FES plan will include more than the common fusion research used by tokamaks, its goals also include the powerful lasers and solar wind simulators for researches on sun-like plasma.
Indeed, budget decisions today will dictate what will happen in the next 20 years which is a critical period for the development of nuclear fusion for energy.
The Nuclear Fusion Technology
According to the University of Tennessee Knoxville, fusion energy's development is one of the twelve Engineering Grand Challenges for the 21st century by the National Academy of Engineering.
Harnessing energy from a miniature sun offers many benefits as a long-term solution for the growing energy needs of the world. But its process poses many engineering science challenges as well, from the development of high-performance plasma-facing materials to the design and development of advanced high-performance structural materials.
Its development plays a significant role in a nation's strategic energy needs and the future of sustainable energy for the country and its economy. A few days ago, CEO magazine reported that China has begun testing its nuclear fusion power reactor for the first time.
It marks the greatest advance in nuclear power research of China to date. Scientists hope that this innovative technology will pave the way for cleaner energy in the future.
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