The newest fusion reactor of Britain has reportedly been fired up, placing the UK closer to generating electricity from the power of the stars.
The Tokamak ST40 reactor has an outstanding-hot-cloud core of electrically-charged plasma or gas, which is expected to touch temperatures of around 100 million centigrades in 2018.
This is the heat required to trigger fusion, the atomic nuclei joining together which is accompanied by a massive release of energy. This is said to be the same process that facilitates stars to shine and reportedly in a less controlled way providing the destructive force of H-bombs.
Tokamak Energy, a private company pioneering fusion power in the UK, contributed to the building of the new reactor at Milton Park, Oxfordshire. This is said to be the third upgraded reactor by Tokamak Energy and is representative of the most recent step in a five-stage plan which can bring fusion power to the national grid by 2030.
Fusion power is the key to unlimited supplies of clean energy. It does not produce any greenhouse gasses, uses special forms of hydrogen as fuel, and the only reported waste product is helium.
But harnessing the forces is a daunting challenge. The plasma which is featured with 100m C that is seven times hotter than the centre of the sun has to be encapsulated in a magnetic bottle which is doughnut-shaped. There needed to be a way to turn the energy of fast-moving elementary particles into electricity.
Dr. David Kingham, Tokamak Energy chief executive said it was an important day for the fusion energy development in the UK and the world. He was speaking after the ST40 reactor officially achieved the first plasma.
He added that they were unveiling the first world-class controlled fusion device which was designed, built, and operated by a private venture. The ST40 machine would show fusion temperatures, around 100 million degrees, were possible in compact and cost-effective reactors.
Kingham added that the project was nearly halfway to meeting the goal of fusion energy and still needed further investment. The company had raised £20 million to date from private contributors. He added that their approach continued to break down a series of engineering challenges and raising additional investment on reaching a new milestone.