A team of scientists in the United Kingdom made a significant breakthrough in the quest for a nearly unlimited source of carbon-free, reliable power. Researchers at the Joint European Torus (JET) in Oxfordshire managed to generate 59 megajoules of sustained fusion energy over five seconds.
To generate the power, scientists fused atoms together, creating an immense amount of heat in the process. The tokamak machine was only able to run for five seconds after its magnets overheated. The powerful magnets are used to create a magnetic field to contain the scorching temperatures, which can reach million degrees Celsius. That is 10 times hotter than the center of the sun.
“These landmark results have taken us a huge step closer to conquering one of the biggest scientific and engineering challenges of them all,” said Profesor Ian Chapman, the chief executive of the UK Atomic Energy Authority. “It’s clear we must make significant changes to address the effects of climate change, and fusion offers so much potential.”
The scientists said they are still decades away from using nuclear fusion to power the planet but are hopeful as they continue to make progress refining the technology.
“The JET results are impressive and probably will get better as they proceed through their experiments. They are producing high-power 12 MW, but right now, just for five seconds. Much longer fusion burn is what is required,” Tony Roulstone from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering told CNN.