In 2014, Lockheed Martin overwhelmed the world by claiming it would own the first operational fusion reactor in “at least 10 years”. Five years after the announcement, Lockheed said the project is still underway, but with little progress.
Perhaps the energy industry should look the other way, looking forward to the new project of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT.
The SPARC test furnace will be quite modest in size.
According to The New York Times, scientists working at the MIT Plasma Science and Technology Center are building a fusion reactor of their own. In the next three to four years, MIT will partner with the Commonwealth Fusion System (CFS) – a company spun off from MIT in 2017 – to commercialize this cutting edge idea. Currently, MIT is working to complete the SPARC experimental fusion reactor that will prove fusion to be effective.
MIT and CFS plan to use “the high temperature yttrium barium copper oxide (YBCO) superconducting magnet technology” to create an electromagnetic field strong enough to control fusion between deuterium and tritium (both of which are isotopes of hydrogen) under high pressure and temperature up to millions of degrees Celsius.
The MIT donut-shaped reactor is about the size of a tennis court. If it works well, fusion will generate 10 times the energy input, thus paving the way for a future “non-carbon, safe, endless fusion energy“.
When successfully proving that the concept of “fusion furnace” is feasible, MIT and CFS will join forces to create the ARC furnace, which is the first three letters of “affordable – in the price range”, “robust – healthy” and “compact. – condensed “. As early as 2025, humanity will see the ARC reactor take shape.
It is expected that the ARC reactor will produce 270 megawatts, equivalent to a quarter of the energy output of a fission reactor (which are common nuclear reactors), enough to meet the needs of 100,000 households. people.
Another device with the same technology as the MIT project is the Thermonuclear Test Reactor (ITER) located in the south of France, scheduled to be officially launched in 2035. MIT and CFS say the cost of construction Their kiln construction will cost only a fraction of the $ 22 billion to build an ITER furnace. If this is true, the ARC furnace will be even cheaper than the nuclear power plants we’re seeing, which still cost about $ 23 billion or more.
Furthermore, the operating costs of the ARC furnace in particular or the fusion reactor in general are also much lower, since a fusion reactor does not need expensive uranium material, but uses hydrogen as an energy source. CFS stated that “One cup of water is enough to provide fusion energy for a lifetime“.
Until now, fusion furnace technology, sometimes referred to as “pocket sun”, is still believed to be the lifesaver of the energy industry. But the amount of energy that the furnace uses is still higher than the furnace can produce, so the oven is waiting for a technological breakthrough to realize the dream of clean and endless energy.
Based on what MIT and CFS stated, we are excited to look forward to a bright future in just half a decade.