For years humans have been trying to harness the power of the sun and to a certain degree have succeeded in harnessing at least some of its power but compared to its true potential it is incomparable. What we need too to strive for is going beyond simply harnessing the power of the sun in form of solar energy but rather focus on creating our won mini-sun that will provide us with unlimited energy that would be green for the environment. Thanks to the groundbreaking research since 1950, this can actually be achieved if we become able to crack extremely complex set of scientific and engineering problems. Even though fusion researchers at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab have realistic expectations of getting the first commercial fusion power plant up and running in 25 years hard work and extensive research is underway to harness the full potential of fusion energy.
Why Fusion Energy?
You are probably wondering why we are so hung up on Fusion Energy. The answer is simple, fusion energy is limitless, self-sustaining and green meaning it will not harm the environment in any way unlike our other energy sources. The process of creating fusion energy is the same as the sun but whereas it happens naturally in the sun, researchers are trying to accomplish it through scientific means. In fusion, two nuclei of the hydrogen atom (deuterium and tritium isotopes) combine. This is generally hard to do: Both nuclei are positively charged which causes them to repel each other. Just in the event that they are moving amazingly fast when they impact will they crush together, meld and in this manner discharge massive amounts of energy. Here on Earth, we utilize powerful magnets to contain intense hot gas of electrically charged deuterium and tritium nuclei and electrons. This hot, charged gas is known as a plasma.
The plasma is hotter than 100 million degrees Celsius – this caused the nuclei to move so fast that they overcome their electrical repulsion and fuse. When the nuclei join together, they frame two form to energetic particles – an alpha particle (the core of the helium atom) and a neutron. To heat plasma to this level an incredible amount of energy is required but once the process begins it starts self-sustain itself allowing us to convert the excess heat as electric energy. This kind of process is completely safe to nature and is infinite in power making it simply the solution to all our electric energy needs!
Where Do We Stand?
As far as progress on utilizing the maximum potential of Fusion Energy goes we are making headfast progress. The international scientific community is working in unity with leading experts from around the world in a research plant in France, called ITER which is Latin for “the way”. This research plant will generate 500 megawatts of fusion energy which converted to electrical energy could power 150,000 houses. This will be carried out as an experiment to help scientists determine key science and engineering issues we face in harnessing the full potential of fusion energy and hopefully find a method to sustain fusion power plants that will provide us with unlimited energy!