Fusion reactor: the clean future of unlimited energy?


Photo provided by zmescience.com

A basic rendition of what takes place in one of these reactors.

Sandy Hutchins, Staff Writer

Ever since the Industrial Revolution the search for power to fuel these ever more demanding inventions and the growing population has seen things from horse driven mills to collecting solar energy. However, clean forms of energy have been unable to replace the polluting coal and natural gas energy. This is because, hydro, wind, and solar are not as cheap or as efficient as burning dead dinosaurs. Even nuclear fuel, which seemed to have great promise, has failed to replace fossil fuels as a main energy source. This is due to several reasons; it is extremely expensive with a factory unit being priced around $9 billion just to build and their energy costs are more expensive than both cleaner and dirtier sources of energy. Not only is it expensive but it is also extremely dangerous as the threat of a melt down is very real, for example, when Chernobyl had a meltdown, and the material it creates is toxic to anything that lives.

However, a new (ish) source of power is on the horizon, this being nuclear fusion. This is where an atom of hydrogen is fused with another at extremely high temperatures to create helium, releasing huge amounts of energy. This process that scientists are able to control already is the exact same process that occurs in a star. This process would use water as a fuel source and a glass of water would be able to provide enough energy to power a city for over a year! This energy source also only produces helium, an inert, harmless gas, and no radiation so it is less dangerous. With future innovations and designs it can also become self sustaining power source.

This new fuel source is still extremely new and will unlikely be instated in true power production for most likely the next 50 years. So don’t abandon your stocks in the natural gas and coal industry quite yet.