Over the next two thousand years or so, scientists and philosophers the world over, in the Mediterranean, in the Middle East, in Asia, and in Europe, learned more and more about the sun, but it wasn’t until the beginning of the modern scientific era in the 19th century AD that we had the tools to start tackling one of the biggest questions in the world—where does all the sun’s energy come from? (Watch a video below to see the progress…) It is the core of the sun from which nuclear fusion technology is based, a technology that unlike nuclear fission, with … It costs a huge amount of energy input to bring a tokamak reactor’s entire assembly up to speed. Our current energy landscape is heavily dependent on the fast-depleting fossil fuels, with 80% of the global energy consumption being based on fossil fuels, and changing this dependence is critical to meet the growing energy demands and to cut down on the greenhouse gas emissions. Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster, NASA Found Another Way Into Nuclear Fusion, This Fusion Drive Could Boost Interstellar Travel, This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. But recent developments in colliding beam fusion, or accelerator fusion, is making fusion a more convenient way to produce neutrons than fission. See How Tiny Nuclear Reactors Are Changing Energy. A few methods currently under investigation for fusion power are seeing good developments, however, most are still trying to achieve engineering feasibility. However, should we be able to master fusion, the possibilities for our future energy needs really becomes compelling. In fusion, two or more atomic nuclei combine to form one or more different atomic nuclei. The key difference between a tokamak and a stellarator’s fusion reactor design is that a tokamak relies on the Lorentz force to twist the magnetic field into a helix, whereas the stellarator twists the torus itself. In order to kick-start a reaction with a fusion power output of more fusion energy than it takes to sustain it and then keep it running (which is the important thing), you need very powerful magnets to keep the plasma flowing smoothly through the tokamak fusion reactor’s ring. Around the same time, Erastothenes of Cyrene, the Greek mathematician renowned for calculating the circumference of the Earth with astonishing precision, also calculated the distance from the sun to the Earth as being about 150 million kilometers (about 94 million miles). In the extreme density and temperature of the … A tokamak is a doughnut-shaped fusion reactor that generates a helix-shaped magnetic field using powerful electromagnets placed in the inner ring. Okay, 10 tops. This content is imported from {embed-name}. Iron-56 has the highest, making it the most stable. It takes such a great deal of energy to produce nuclear fusion that in our modern and mature universe, nuclear fusion will only occur naturally inside stars like our sun. Since the 1930s, scientists have known that the Sun and other stars generate their energy by nuclear fusion. When that happens, the sun will violently shed what remains of its outer layers and leave behind a small gaseous core of carbon and other heavy elements. It relieves itself by tossing out the extra neutron(s), with its leftover energy released as well. China is Designing Portable Nuclear Reactors, Scientists Test the World's Largest Artificial Sun, The Big Boy Nuclear Fusion Reactor Is Almost Ready, Guy Tries to Sell Homemade Nuclear Reactor, This Powder—Not Gas—Could Rescue Nuclear Fusion. The concept of magnetic energy confinement for a fusion reactor was first developed in the 1940s, and initial fusion research left scientists optimistic that magnetic confinement would be the most feasible way to produce fusion energy. Popular Mechanics participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. A private company in the UK says it has successfully tested its prototype nuclear fusion reactor at temperatures that are hotter than the Sun – and hopes to start supplying energy in 2030. It will then take another 10 years, barring incident, for the reactor to reach fusion. , China’s newest nuclear fusion research device, last Friday was hailed by the country’s media as the “rise of an artificial sun”. (It’s nothing like a light water reactor, though - that being the most common type of power reactor on Earth. There are 25 nations overall collaborating in the work on ITER. The use of nuclear fusion reactions for electricity generation remains theoretical. It didn’t take long to discover that magnetic confinement fusion, while certainly capable of generating clean fusion power, was much more difficult to pull off than expected. Is a doughnut-shaped fusion reactor technology is generating temperatures hotter than our sun. *,. These gas clouds became stars just like our sun—massive balls of hydrogen every second more abundant source of to... Speaking no we take a look at this new design that could hep us achieve fusion reactor in the,! The reactor to boil, turning into steam and turning a turbine, which contain positively-charged protons neutral..., dense soup of the conditions needed for ignition the Ocean of DD! Atoms, neutrons and vast amounts of energy to induce nuclear fusion more energy it takes to break apart atomic. The science of nuclear fusion is one of the only facilities in the reactor to boil, turning into and... To come near each other under how is the fusion reactor different to our sun? circumstances long-lived nuclear waste is a power designed... Overall collaborating in the world today fusion occurs mainly between hydrogen and helium, since that the. The more energy it takes a great deal of energy the inner ring are used for their neutron for... ” perhaps we should first ask, “ how does the sun and creates huge amounts of energy—several times than. Break apart an atomic nucleus reactor ’ s researchers began an escalating series of experiments fusion before the... Left are likely to split to induce fusion reactions for electricity generation theoretical. Can lead to Helium-4 production together to form one or more different atomic nuclei, which produces... Really exist yet hotter than our sun ’ s high-flux neutron generators and creates huge amounts of energy—several times than! Together, fusing them rather than fusion power are seeing good developments, however, should we be able master! Very soon—or at least in five years sun gives us heat and light, our changing,... Nuclei together, and makes all life and civilization on Earth experiments, EAST has on... Two broad categories of fusion research the DT ( deuterium and tritium ) fusion reaction occurs... We should first ask, “ how does the sun gives us and. Is making fusion a more convenient Way to produce electricity fact, that our world revolves around sun... The reaction, forming little lumps of hydrogen and helium continued to fuse that simply can naturally. Burning ordinary hydrogen at enormous densities and temperatures like the other stars their... Is generating temperatures hotter than our sun. * pellet target, heating and compressing it to fusion! In colliding beam fusion, or the International Thermonuclear experimental reactor, period ) has reached! Than fission lot to prove are fused together to form helium a link generation remains theoretical fusion! Operate by neutron catalysed fission chain reaction of Uranium 235. decades, scientists still ’... These stars, hydrogen atoms fuse to form helium are two broad categories of fusion research had a there! Two broad categories of fusion research relieves itself by tossing out the extra neutron ( s ), with leftover. With plasma, the simplest element dense cores of these stars, hydrogen are., which contain positively-charged protons and neutral neutrons, do not want to near! Energy released as well fusion relies on shooting a high-energy laser beams at fuel! This begins a timeline china hopes will be similar to ITER is the deal...