After an 18 month shutdown at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, experiments are up and running again as the world’s premier physicists search for an unlimited and clean energy supply. In the lab’s reactors, stars about the size of a minivan are created, burning at 21 million degrees centigrade. “At the heart of a star, fusion occurs when hydrogen atoms fuse together under extreme heat and pressure to create a denser helium atom releasing, in the process, colossal amounts of energy.” During the shutdown, more heat-resistant tiles were placed in the reactors.
What’s the Big Idea?
For many people, fusion power remains in the realm of science fiction, and despite large research efforts over the last 50 years, the promise of energy from fusion has always remained a generation away. “Last year, when asked to name the most pressing scientific challenge facing humanity, Professors Stephen Hawking and Brian Cox both gave the same answer: producing electricity from fusion energy. The prize, they said, is enormous: a near-limitless, pollution-free, cheap source of energy that would power human development for many centuries to come.”