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Current Affairs

Nuclear fusion breakthrough

Date: 14 February 2022 Tags: Energy

Issue

The JET laboratory in Britain has smashed the record in the amount of energy it can extract through nuclear fusion.

 

Background

Nuclear fusion in a controlled environment has been a work in progress since many years and its commercial use has not yet been obtained.

 

Details

  • The recent experiment managed to produce 59 MJ of energy over five seconds. This is more than double what was achieved in similar tests back in 1997.

  • The JET is collaboration between EU member states, Switzerland, the UK and Ukraine, founded in 1978.

 

Significance of results

  • The energy harvested is very less but it strengthens design choices that have been made for a bigger fusion reactor now being constructed in France.

  • The experiment demonstrated the greatest amount of energy output from the fusion reactions of any device in history.

 

ITER facility

It is a project carried out in France by a consortium of countries such as the US, EU, Britain, China and also India.

 

Nuclear fusion

  • Nuclear fusion works on the principle that energy can be released by forcing together atomic nuclei.

  • This naturally happens on stars including the Sun, which give out energy through this process.

  • The fuel to produce the plasma will be a mix of two forms, or isotopes, of hydrogen called deuterium and tritium.

 

Importance of nuclear fusion

  • Successful harvesting could lead to potential of virtually unlimited supplies of low-carbon, low-radiation energy.

  • Fusion reaction will produce no greenhouse gases and only very small amounts of short-lived radioactive waste.

  • Theoretically, a small glass of deuterium and tritium could power a house for hundreds of years. The fuels are also easily obtained.

 

Challenges

The biggest challenge is to sustain the process and prevent it from extinguishing. There is also a need to reduce energy consumption.