What’s Up With Fusion Power?


In Brief
  • Fusion power has the potential to provide unlimited clean energy.
  • So what’s taking so long?

The Solution to Our Energy Problems?

Fusion energy is an energy source that sounds almost too good to be true: unlimited energy that could be powered by the likes of seawater, with no expense to the environment. Maybe that’s why it’s been in development since the Cold War, and still looks a long way off.

So what is nuclear fusion? Essentially, it is the process that happens at the core of stars like our Sun. In fusion, two hydrogen isotopes are fused together, creating helium and a whole lot of energy.

But unlike other sources of energy, it has few real drawbacks. The only waste from successful fusion is helium, the second most abundant element in the Universe. You’d only need something with plenty of hydrogen (like water) for fuel. It’s not a barely-contained bomb, so a plant failure wouldn’t lead to a meltdown.

So why don’t we have fusion power plants yet? We’ll, we haven’t made fusion that completely works yet. The fusion experiments we have now, in any form, draw in more energy than they give off, making them commercially nonviable.

Even if we’ve been working on this since the 50s, we still have no definite date on when we will have viable fusion. All the resources we’ve put into fusion only lead to more obstacles and question. But when the goal is unlimited, clean, and safe energy, isn’t that worth the effort?

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