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Scientists set new record in creating energy from nuclear fusion

  • Published
    10th Feb, 2022
Context

Nuclear Fusion Energy: The Joint European Torus (JET) nuclear-fusion experiment based in Oxfordshire, UK, has more than doubled the amount of fusion energy produced in a single “shot”.

What is Nuclear energy?

  • Nuclear energy is a form of energy released from the nucleus, the core of atoms, made up of protons and neutrons.
  • This source of energy can be produced in two ways:
    • fission – when nuclei of atoms split into several parts
    • fusion – when nuclei fuse together
  • The nuclear energy harnessed around the world today to produce electricity is through nuclear fission.
  • Nuclear fusion is the process whereby nuclei join together into one nucleus. The fusion of two atomic nuclei into one nucleus is not possible under standard temperature and pressure. 
About

About Joint European Torus (JET):

  • JET, which was built in 1983, is operated by the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) – the UK’s national fusion research laboratory.
  • It is a fusion reactor that uses magnetic confinement to hold a hot plasma reaching temperatures of 150 million kelvin, 10 times hotter than the centre of the Sun.
  • JET is the only device currently operating that can use the deuterium–tritium fuel mix, of the kind that will be used for commercial fusion power.
  • It is the world's most powerful tokamak (a doughnut shaped apparatus) and is the focal point of the European fusion research program.

Results of the recent research by JET:

  • During an experiment in late 2021, JET achieved 59 megajoules (MJ) of fusion energy, beating the previous record of 22 MJ in 1997.
  • The record and scientific data from these crucial experiments are a major boost for ITER, the larger and more advanced version of the JET.

About ITER:

  • ITER is the next-generation power-plant-scale (target: 500 MW fusion power) tokamak currently under construction at Caderache, France.
  • It is intended to be capable of long (100s of seconds) pulses and generate significant fusion power in a range of experimental scenarios to prove the controlled plasma physics required for commercial fusion power.
  • ITER is an international collaboration between the EU, China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the United States, covering nearly half the world's population. 
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