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FUSION: THE ANSWER TO THE WORLD’S ENERGY WOES

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THE NOT-SO-SCI-FI ANSWER TO THE WORLD’S ENERGY WOES

As of late 2022, a large segment of society has heard of fusion, but the general consensus would seem to be that this near-limitless energy source is decades (or more) away from being viable. As such, those who casually contemplate this technology might consider it to be something of a sci-fi dream, not the actual answer to our current energy woes. As it turns out, harvesting this energy source is closer than ever, and a viable reactor may be just over the horizon.

What is fusion?

In this context, nuclear fusion is the process whereby smaller atomic structures combine — fuse together — to form a larger atom, releasing a tremendous amount of energy. This type of reaction takes place constantly in the sun, thus one could reasonably say that we’ve been using fusion power since the advent of mankind.

Producing usable fusion on Earth, however, means superheating atoms into plasma at around 100 million° C. As no known material can withstand this sort of temperature, the reactor generates a containment field to control this plasma, typically using magnets. This whole process uses a tremendous amount of energy; however, the fusion reaction could theoretically be harvested to power its containment — plus a nearby city or two.

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