The fire that powers the universe: Harnessing inertial fusion energy

July 10, 2024, 12:01PMNuclear NewsBenny Evangelista and Charlie Osolin
Concept art showing an IFE power plant of the future. (Image: Eric Smith/LLNL)

It was a laser shot for the ages. By achieving fusion ignition on December 5, 2022, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory proved that recreating the “fire” that fuels the sun and the stars inside a laboratory on Earth was indeed scientifically possible.

Taking shape: Fusion energy ecosystems built with public-private partnerships

July 10, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear NewsSusan Gallier

It’s possible to describe fusion in simple terms: heat and squeeze small atoms to get abundant clean energy. But there’s nothing simple about getting fusion ready for the grid.

Private developers, national lab and university researchers, suppliers, and end users working toward that goal are developing a range of complex technologies to reach fusion temperatures and pressures, confounded by science and technology gaps linked to plasma behavior; materials, diagnostics, and electronics for extreme environments; fuel cycle sustainability; and economics.

The JT-60SA project

July 10, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear NewsTakahiro Suzuki
Fig. 1. A photograph (left) and schematic figure (right) of JT-60SA. (Source: Naka Institute)

JT-60SA (Japan Torus-60 Super Advanced) is the world’s largest superconducting tokamak device. Its goal is the earlier realization of fusion energy (see Fig. 1). Fusion is the energy that powers the Sun, and just 1 gram of deuterium-tritium (D-T) fuel produces enormous energy—the equivalent of 8 tons of crude oil.

Last fall, the JT-60SA project announced an important milestone: the achievement of the tokamak’s first plasma. This article describes the objectives of the JT-60SA project, achievements in the operation campaign for the first plasma, and next steps.

ITER leaders propose a decade of work before D-D operations in 2035

June 24, 2024, 3:03PMNuclear News
Member delegates, their experts and interpreters, and representatives of the ITER Organization and the ITER domestic agencies convened for the 34th ITER Council. (Photo: ITER)

At the 34th ITER Council Meeting, held June 19–20, ITER director general Pietro Barabaschi reported on ITER’s progress and presented an updated baseline proposal that would “prioritize the start of substantial research operations as rapidly as possible.”