Scientists edge towards fusion energy for power grid
Washinghton, June 10 (IANS) Researchers have made a significant headway in developing an experimental reactor that can demonstrate the feasibility of fusion energy for the power grid.
Nuclear fusion promises to supply more energy than the nuclear fission used today but with far fewer risks.
Researchers at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (UT-K), US, completed a critical step this week for the project by successfully testing their technology that will insulate and stabilise the central solenoid - the reactor's backbone, according to an UT statement.
Since 2008, UT-K engineering professors and about 15 students have worked inside the varsity's Magnet Development Lab (MDL) located off of Pellissippi Parkway to develop technology that serves to insulate and provide structural integrity to the more than 1,000 tonne central solenoid.
Mechanical, aerospace and biomedical engineering professors David Irick, Madhu Madhukar and Masood Parang, respectively, are engaged in a project involving the US, five other nations, and the European Union, known as ITER and UT-K.
ITER is building a fusion reactor that aims to produce 10 times the amount of energy that it uses. The facility is now under construction near Cadarache, France, and will begin operations in 2020.
"The goal of ITER is to help bring fusion power to the commercial market," Madhukar said. "Fusion power is safer and more efficient than nuclear fission power," he added.
"There is no danger of runaway reactions like what happened in nuclear fission reactions in Japan and Chernobyl, and there is little radioactive waste," Madhukar said.
Unlike today's nuclear fission reactors, fusion uses a similar process as that which powers the Sun.
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