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New Fusion Plant Concept Is Like a Tiny Star Trapped Here on Earth

As our understanding of how things work in this Universe advances, we learn that there are more than enough clean ways to generate the power we need to keep our society running. Sadly, the implementation of some of them remains relatively elusive.
General Atomics Fusion Pilot Plant concept 7 photos
General Atomics Fusion Pilot Plant conceptGeneral Atomics Fusion Pilot Plant conceptGeneral Atomics Fusion Pilot Plant conceptGeneral Atomics Fusion Pilot Plant conceptGeneral Atomics Fusion Pilot Plant conceptGeneral Atomics Fusion Pilot Plant concept
Fusion takes place when two nuclei somehow combine to form a new one, releasing vast amounts of energy in the process, and it's basically the process that powers stars. Research into power generation using fusion started decades ago, but we’re yet to see a solution that can generate more electricity than it needs to run.

And this is why today the concept is nowhere to be seen in practice, used as it could be. But its absence on a grand scale doesn’t mean people are not working on ways to make fusion both possible and effective.

General Atomics (GA) said this week it may have found a solution, through something called a Fusion Pilot Plant (FPP). The “culmination of more than six decades of investments in fusion research and development,” it will be used as a starting point to “perform a broad range of studies and continuously optimize the power plant for maximum efficiency.”

The GA FPP uses a steady-state tokamak design to maintain fusion plasma for long times. A tokamak is a device that holds plasma using magnetic fields and produces enough heat and pressure to force the nuclei to fuse. The plant will use seawater hydrogen isotopes, forcing them to fuse, and it will be capable of generating its own fuel in the process (check video below).

All of the above sounds too good to be true, as it means in essence virtually unlimited energy produced in a clean and safe way, while at the same time being relatively cheap to operate.

And it kind of is too good to be true, as GA did not give any indication as to when and if the FPP concept will become operational in the real world, and if there’s any chance of it becoming a reality in a short enough period of time for the rest of us to enjoy.



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