The site of the experiment was the Joint European Torus (JET), or tokamak, at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in the British county of Oxfordshire. The temperature inside the tokamak is maintained at 150 million degrees Celsius, 10 times greater than the sun’s core. And that, in Earth’s conditions, allows for the process of nuclear fusion to take place, the essence of how stars are created.
The experiment lasted for five seconds, producing what amounted to a comparative small amount of energy – a volume allowing for an electric kettle to boil 60 times. But for the scientists the experiment was far more important in that it used a fuel mixture (deuterium-tritium) which an be applied to the international nuclear fusion research project (ITER – “the way” in Latin) now under construction in France and due to be completed in 2025. A single gram of deuterium-tritium should produce as much energy as 8 tonnes of oil.
“This achievement is the result of years-long preparation by the EUROfusion team of researchers across Europe,” Tony Donné, EUROfusion Programme Manager, said in a statement.
“The record, and more importantly the things we’ve learned about fusion under these conditions and how it fully confirms our predictions, show that we are on the right path to a future world of fusion energy. If we can maintain fusion for five seconds, we can do it for five minutes and then five hours as we scale up our operations in future machines.”
Russia is one of the participants in the ITER project alongside the European Union, China, India, South Korea and the United States. Russia accounts for 9 % of the project’s expenditure, said Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear power company. And Russian specialists are to build 25 unique systems for the fusion research facility now under construction.