Fusion energy is produced when two or more light atoms fuse together which releases some amount of energy, usually in the form of heat. For some years, progress experimental favored the production of a large amount of energy by fusion. Thanks to technological advances, scientists have been able to produce more efficient tokamaks, capable of producing a energy almost inexhaustible.
At the end of the last century, the Joint European Torus (JET), near Oxford, United Kingdom, product 22 megajoules fusion energy, a record at the time. Recently, the installation has again achieved a new record of fusion energy production, almost three times larger than the old one.
This progress constitutes a breakthrough in the field of fusion by tokamak. It could allow the production of practically inexhaustible energy, without the cost of gas exhaust pollutants or of large amounts of waste radioactive.
On the creation of more efficient tokamaks
Tokamaks could be the key to this important step in the production energy. They consist of a relatively simple core and a very strong magnetic field cell surrounding it which promotes fusion. Indeed, they facilitate the process by conveying quantities of hydrogen heated to dissolve in a plasma.
Currently, fusion research usesordinary hydrogenof which the nucleus contains only one protonand the slightly rarer hydrogen called deuterium. This mixture is enough to fully develop the melting energy. However, to get the most out of a fusion reactor, you need a rarer hydrogen containing even more neutrons: tritium.
In addition, projects such as JET play an important role in overcome these obstacles related to production energy. In the south of France, a joint international project called ITER builds the largest tokamak in the world. Eventually, it will produce a an impressive 500 megawatts of electricity from just 50 megawatts of initial heat.
A new record in fusion energy production
In 1997, JET set a record in fusion power generation, releasing the equivalent of 4.4 megawatts energy in five seconds on average.
Since then, designers have made changes, including replacing the carbon coating by a mixture of tungsten and beryllium. This new material turns out to be much more powerful. Rather than behaving like a hydrogen sponge, as carbon does, it influences plasma movement.
After long simulations, the new energy production limit of this powerful pair of isotopes hydrogen was finally confirmed. It exceeds the previous record of 59 megajoules.