Fusion News June 11th, 2021

Here are the top new stories related to fusion in the past two weeks. The stories highlight innovation, regulatory affairs, and education related to fusion energy development and research worldwide. Click the video below or go to the FIA youtube to watch the full podcast video version of these stories.

Fusion Breakthrough Brings Scientists a Step Closer to Limitless Clean Energy

New results have come from the MAST Upgrade tokamak and its new SuperX divertor. The divertor is the exhaust system of a tokamak fusion device and is a key challenge for reducing the size of fusion power plants. The new system on MAST Upgrade, known as a ‘Super-X divertor’, would allow components in future commercial tokamaks to last for much longer; increasing the power plant’s availability, improving its economic viability, and reducing the cost of fusion electricity. Professor Ian Chapman, chief executive of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, said: “It is a success in one of fusion’s biggest challenges.”

MAST is a spherical tokamak, and this new divertor is particularly designed for the more compact "spherical" tokamak shape. These smaller designs mean that more heat power hits the smaller amount of wall space--unless it is stretched out over a wider area as in this new Super-X design. So the results are also good news for private company Tokamak Energy Ltd which is also working on the spherical tokamak concept.

Chinese ‘Artificial Sun’ Hits The New Mark in Fusion Energy Mission

The Chinese Academy of Sciences' fusion machine, the EAST superconducting tokamak, reached 120 million degrees °C and held onto this for 101 seconds, setting a new record. EAST held plasma for a similar amount of time in 2017, but the temperature only reached a mere 50 million °C. They then exceeded 100 million degrees in 2018, but only for 10 seconds. This is a huge success and the next step for the machine moving forward would be to maintain these temperatures for as long as a week.

Southern University of Science and Technology physicist Li Miao told the Global Times: "The breakthrough is significant progress, and the ultimate goal should be keeping the temperature at a stable level for a long time."

UK’s New Proposals Support The Rapid Rollout of Fusion Energy

A new report has been published by the Regulatory Horizons Council (the RHC) setting out how the UK can support the rapid and safe introduction of fusion energy as the technology develops. It has made recommendations on how fusion energy should be regulated in light of its inherently lower risk than nuclear alternatives. The report focuses on the UK’s STEP pilot plant program and gives recommendations such as having The Health and Safety Executive and The Environment Agency lead regulations.

The UK government has published an interim response to the RHC report and will respond to the report in full in early 2022 after its consultation. FIA Director of Communications Melanie Windridge wrote an article on the report for Forbes.

Stop Misinformation From Blocking The Rollout Of Fusion Energy

Wal van Lierop calls for a campaign to educate the public about fusion to combat misinformation and unfounded fears. He wants the public to understand that fusion energy is truly the holy grail of clean energy and will provide safe, affordable, clean energy everywhere, forever.

When Will We Have Nuclear Fusion Energy?

Nanalyze, the community of tech investors, has written an informative article about fusion aimed at investors. It includes some details on several FIA member companies.

It’s Time For Congress to Support Fusion Energy

US Representative Don Beyer writes in Scientific American that fusion devices for clean, safe, and affordable electricity as well as industrial heat are making advances and need a push. He says that fusion energy could provide vast amounts of zero-carbon energy at low cost and that the U.S. Congress needs to get behind this approach, because if they don’t, others will, and U.S. economic interests and influence will diminish as a result.