Researchers Announce Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough

Authored by Irina Slave via,

For years nuclear fusion was the stuff of sci-fi books and movies, but technology has brought it, like so many other things, closer to reality. So close, in fact, that there are plans to build the first nuclear fusion reactor by 2025 - a reactor that could yield a lot more energy than is fed into it and provide vast amounts of clean, sustainable energy.

Nuclear fusion, unlike fission, involves smashing particles together to generate energy. Basically, as Bloomberg Energy author Jing Cao explained in a detailed June overview, it’s like recreating the Sun on Earth.

An international team of scientists is working on the biggest project in nuclear fusion in France, to build the largest magnetic fusion machine - a tokamak - and test the commercial-scale viability of this clean energy source. The ITER project is based on the pretty simple premise that the larger the vessel in which fusion reactions occur, the more of them occur, generating more energy.

The ITER tokamak will be ten times larger than the largest existing such device, capable, as per plans, to produce 500 MW of fusion power. To compare, the record so far, set by European tokamak JET (the largest existing one), is 16 MW, from input of 24 MW. The goal of the ITER team is to produce these 500 MW from an input of just 50 MW. Recently, a team of researchers from the MIT published a paper that suggests this achievement is realistic.

The MIT team tweaked the “recipe” for nuclear fusion in such a way that the output of power was ten times greater than with the original composition, which consists of 95 percent deuterium ions and 5 percent hydrogen ions, forming plasma heated to incredibly high temperatures in the tokamak from the movement of the ions.

The tokamak produces magnetic fields that keep the superhot plasma inside and keep it moving - and hot - but controlling it for ever-longer periods of time and making it move faster to produce more energy has been a challenge. Now, the MIT scientists may have found the secret ingredient in an isotope of helium, helium-3.

The team, from the Plasma Science and Fusion Center of the MIT, added trace amounts - 1 percent - of helium-3 to the traditional combination and tested the new combination at the Alcator C-Mod tokamak. The results showed that the hydrogen-deuterium-helium plasma got wrigglier and hotter, producing 10 times more energy than before. The amount of energy produced after the addition of helium, the researchers explained, increased output by an order of magnitude, bringing it into the realm of megaelectronvolts.

One of the scientists involved in the project, John C. Wright, explains,

“These higher energy ranges are in the same range as activated fusion products. To be able to create such energetic ions in a non-activated device — not doing a huge amount of fusion — is beneficial, because we can study how ions with energies comparable to fusion reaction products behave, how well they would be confined.”

The test results were so exciting that another team, the one working with the JET in the UK, decided to replicate them. The replication confirmed the results, raising hopes that a fully functional nuclear fusion reactor may indeed be on the horizon. This horizon is still far, or near, depending on your perspective. According to the head of the Alcator C-Mod project, Earl Marmar, we could see fusion reactors in the 2030s. The main problem: keeping the process going.


Oh regional Indian God Emperor Mon, 08/28/2017 - 04:42 Permalink

haaaahaaa.....2025, MIT...... haaaaahaaaaa..... sorry..... what a load of tripe.MIT = DARPAThe 2025 fusiion reactor is the 1966 Fuel Cell..... always tomorrow....This my friends, is The Report from Iron Mountain in action.....The good life from technology is always next decade.....around the corner..... just needs a little tweaking.... is all....meanwhile just pay me a few billion benny bux, you tax paying lemming/chump.....

In reply to by God Emperor

Rabbi Chaim Cohen svayambhu108 Mon, 08/28/2017 - 10:36 Permalink

Maybe fusion is NOT how stars work?

We trust the men with the big degrees to show us how the Universe works, but the Standard Model is so full of holes, correction factors, anomalies that in 2017, that their experiments yield more questions than answers! However, some of you may already know that there is a group of scientists that maintain a model called the Electric Universe (EU or TEU). It's also different because it unifies numerous scientific disciplines from Astrophysics to Anthropology. As a person with a background in applied physics, this model looks to be the most viable alternative to the Standard Model ever to be put forth. It is not new, it was the leading model in the late 1800's but was marginalized and vilified by a small number of influential elites in the early 20th Century, (apparently in one particular instance solely based upon personal rivalry). If you enjoy these, please share them.

In reply to by svayambhu108

Infnordz Rabbi Chaim Cohen Mon, 08/28/2017 - 14:45 Permalink

I found interesting; it reveals the gas sun model as ignorance caused by inadeqate earlier telescope technology, at least for our own Sun.  Space telescope images with element-selective light-wavelength filters show that our Sun is not a pure Hydrogen Fusion engine, but has stratified layers of plasmas and solids, including a layer(s) of solid Iron under the outer plasma layers with visible electrical arcs, and probably has a recycled Neutron Star fragment at its core too!  This solid Iron layer would explain a lot of the electromagnetic effects on the Earth.The site also suggests that a lot of suns were formed by collisions between galaxies providing energy levels far exceeding solar processes, with the rest formed from the Neutron star fragments of these stars after supernova or other framentation.  Other amazing stuff it suggests includes that sun material doesn't just permanently burn up, but can effectively reincarnate by recycling back to an earlier stage in a sun's life cycle!Maybe the reason why adding Helium-3 helps, is because you need a mix of elements to provide stratified layer energy gradients in smaller fusion engines, but it may not be enough if it needs an extremely dense mass core too e.g. as provided by Neutron Star fragments in smaller stars.

In reply to by Rabbi Chaim Cohen

tmosley svayambhu108 Mon, 08/28/2017 - 08:25 Permalink

Sort of correct. AI has enabled the plasma containment systems to actually work, allowing these types of experiments to be carried out.This is real, and coming hard on the heels of thorium fission experiements.15 years from now, energy will likely be free for small consumers, and maybe for all conumers. You just get charged for the upkeep of the grid as a connection fee. The electricity is all you care to eat over the size of wires you have.Doom is over.

In reply to by svayambhu108

Donate Moar Oldwood Mon, 08/28/2017 - 11:08 Permalink

Yep, $70 of my monthly $110 electric bill is overhead (taxes etc).Actual power charge is $40.Central florida with AC and a wife.Heavily insulated concrete block house (2000sq ft).Its less in the winter since we heat entirely with wood collected in the back yard (10 acres).The less power I use, the higher the overhead part of the bill. 

In reply to by Oldwood

BrownCoat tmosley Mon, 08/28/2017 - 14:30 Permalink

@ tmosley,"15 years from now, energy will likely be free for small consumers, and maybe for all conumers."Same BS, different day. Fission was going to be so cheap they were not going to meter it! (Turns out it is very expensive even without considering decomissioning costs.)

In reply to by tmosley

mkkby Shemp 4 Victory Tue, 08/29/2017 - 00:48 Permalink

The main problem: keeping the process going.This is the kill shot.  After 60 years of experimentation, it still takes more energy input than you get out of it.  IF THAT IS EVER SOLVED (which is doubtful) there is still no clue how to move from a single nanosecond shot, to a continuous *fire*.  Obviously you need the continuous fire to heat a fluid and make usable electricity.Even if energy output is solved by 2025, the continuation problem is still many decades away.  If ever.  Realistically we are looking at 50 years or more for a useful power plant.

In reply to by Shemp 4 Victory

vofreason ACP Mon, 08/28/2017 - 06:35 Permalink

I don't even know how you simpletons manage to work a computer, you shouldn't have anything other than garden tools.  Who do you think made the computer you're on,...or the tech in your F-150, ATV, jet ski, guns or our millitary?  You're all against science which is like being aganst knowledge.  "If my grandpappy didn't have it I don't want it".  These are the only people doing anything relevant and helpful to the human race,...not coal miners and and the NRA. You're basically the American version of the's just you live here where all the scientists and educated people "won" and have made things too easy, nice and comfortable for you.  It's not perfect but everything good you have is a result of people like those at MIT pursuing things like this.  You're like angry children complaining at their lack of "freedom" all the while enjoying the fantastic life your parents provide.  

In reply to by ACP

skbull44 vofreason Mon, 08/28/2017 - 07:43 Permalink

Let's assume there is some truth here and cheap, sustainable energy arrives in the next dozen does this undo the damage already done to the environment? How does it replace the dwindling fish stocks? Expand the disappearing arable land? Make more of the non-renewable resources we depend so much upon yet in our haste to extract them have far surpassed the point of diminishing returns?
Or, does it actually serve to speed up our drawdown of these essential resources?
Will it also halt the hegemonic aspirations of the competing empires when they don't have to wrestle over fossil fuels? (Probably not since such lunacy far predates such energy resources).
Will it curtail the asinine monetary policies of the various central banks that are helping to fuel inequality, currency devaluation, and asset price inflation? (Again, probably not since such lunacy far predates energy issues).
So, really, nothing is solved...and, more likely, issues of concern become exacerbated if energy limits suddenly vanish.

In reply to by vofreason

Iskiab vofreason Mon, 08/28/2017 - 08:42 Permalink

I somewhat agree with him, scientific advancement is the result of work, it doesn't magically happen on it's own.

An example of it failing is the late Roman Empire. The romans made fun of the Greeks for their pure research methods, and only believed in applied science. The result was the romans couldn't build aqueducts by the end of the empire, they had regressed technologically. Another way the Roman and American empire are similar.

In reply to by vofreason

Seeing Red jaxville Mon, 08/28/2017 - 12:58 Permalink

I've personally never met an engineer who thought the Moon landings were faked.  I saw a lecture on YouTube by a metallurgist who explained that adding small amounts of a cheap additive to steel would reduce strength loss at elevated tempartures (9/11 shows this just might be a good idea).  Otherwise, why do steel structures sometimes have fireproof coatings?  Google "steel fireproofing" images.  Also, there's this:… disagree that "people here ... are not against science."  As far as I can tell, most totally are ... except for liking their cars, trucks & gadgets.

In reply to by jaxville