Fusion works, but uses a supernova budget to make a mini sun for a fraction of a second

By Jo Nova

Fusion reactors will one day be the ultimate in “free energy”, but judging by the latest news of holy grail moments, it won’t be soon. The bonanza of energy that everyone wants was never going to come by catching photons from the sun with a million square kilometer PV net, but from recreating the source of those photons here on Earth. It’s the energy released if we can smack two atoms together and make them fuse which requires extreme temperatures and pressures (a bit like the sun) and do it efficiently, reliably, and millions of times a day.

In the latest nuclear news round, the mini sun experiment at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory California gave back slightly more energy than was directly put in, which seems very exciting, but systemic total costs and energy used to “make this moment” happen are in a Supernova category all by themselves.

UPDATE: Just after publishing this blog post, news came out of a newer experiment just ten days ago:

The US’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) has announced it successfully used a 192-beam laser to turn a tiny amount of hydrogen into enough energy to […]

Developing nation China makes artificial Sun — nuclear fusion at 70 million degrees for 17 minutes

Amazing what countries too poor to commit to Net Zero get up to

China’s EAST Tokamak Reactor in 2015

China is the fastest growing nuclear power in the world, poised to have the largest fission fleet by 2030. But it has just scored a bit of a leap forward in nuclear fusion:

China’s Artificial Sun Breaks Record by Hitting 120 Million F in Race for Nuclear Fusion

Robert Lea, Newsweek

The team at China’s “artificial sun” fusion facility—the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST)—have said that on December 30, 2021, they were able to generate 120 million degrees Fahrenheit plasma (around 70 million degrees Celsius) and hold it for 1,056 seconds.

Tokamaks, like the donut-shaped EAST reactor, are often referred to as “artificial suns” as they are devices that replicate the fusion processes that occur within stars.

In the Sun, two hydrogen atoms are bashed together to make one helium atom, plus lots of energy. In stars the temperature only needs to be 60 million F (or 33 million degrees C) for that to be self sustaining, because the pressure is so much higher at the centre of the Sun. Here on Earth, […]