The Joint European Torus (JET) has broken its own record for the longest sustained nuclear fusion in the world at 5 seconds. During this time, it produced 11 Megawatts of energy, which has successfully proven the technology.
Currently, renewable energy is seen as the answer to climate change, but nuclear fusion may be the final answer to the problem. Limitless clean energy with barely any waste, and it uses materials from seawater.
For those unaware, nuclear fusion is the same process that the Sun uses to produce energy. The team has duplicated this effect in this experiment.
Don’t We Already Have Nuclear Energy?
Many might confuse this with existing nuclear energy, but it is completely different.
Nuclear plants harness fission to produce energy. Fission is a very complicated process in which larger atoms like Uranium are split into smaller ones. This type of process requires radioactive material to produce energy and other forms of waste.
While it is a low-carbon solution, many are still fearful of it.
In comparison, nuclear fusion is what’s occurring in the sun. This is a process in which small atoms, like hydrogen, are combined into larger ones. Smaller atoms are far more abundant in our world, thus, it does not have a huge impact.
More importantly, there is far less radiation as a result. It’s a more accessible form of nuclear energy that does not produce emissions and creates less waste.
Or in other words, it’s the perfect solution to the energy crisis.
Wouldn’t Renewables Still Be Better?
One of the biggest criticisms of renewable energy is that they are inefficient and unreliable. It’s certainly debatable, but there is some truth.
This is changing as they begin to become more popular and power entire countries, but there’s no denying that a more reliable energy source is more desirable. And that’s exactly what it is.
Just like how the current nuclear energy is extremely reliable and works in tandem with renewables, nuclear fusion could be the final form.
More importantly, only needing to use hydrogen would make it inexpensive. Once the technology is established, limitless and cheap energy will become a reality. The real question is how long will it take for this to happen.
Nuclear Fusion Technology Is Still A Ways Off
The test was successful for five seconds. While this is enough to prove the technology is feasible, it does not mean it will be here anytime soon.
In reality, the purpose of the test was to prove that nuclear fusion is a viable option to generate energy. That it’s not an unachievable dream. It was not to actually create a functional plant. The technology just isn’t there yet.
With this said, it’s unlikely we would see an actual energy source from this technology before 2050, which means we need to focus on getting rid of fossil fuels. This will mainly come from electrification and switching to renewable energy sources.
That said, technological breakthroughs can accelerate any technology. Thus, it is possible it could be here much sooner.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.