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Japanese Experimental Nuclear Fusion Reactor Inaugurated

Updated: Jan 5

The world's largest experimental nuclear fusion reactor was inaugurated in Japan on Friday, marking a significant milestone in the development of this technology. Fusion, which involves fusing two atomic nuclei together, is seen by many as a potential solution to meet humanity's future energy needs.

Japan opened the largest operational experimental nuclear fusion reactor in the world on Friday.
Credit: Handout / National Institutes for Quantum Science and Technology (QST)/AFP

The JT-60SA reactor, located in Naka, north of Tokyo, aims to explore the feasibility of fusion as a safe, large-scale and carbon-free source of net energy. The six-story-high machine consists of a donut-shaped "tokamak" vessel that contains swirling plasma heated up to 200 million degrees Celsius (360 million degrees Fahrenheit).

This project is a collaboration between the European Union and Japan and serves as a precursor to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in France, which is currently under construction. Both projects share the ultimate goal of achieving nuclear fusion by coaxing hydrogen nuclei to fuse into helium, releasing energy in the process.

While ITER has faced challenges, including budget overruns and technical issues, researchers at the JT-60SA are optimistic about the potential of fusion energy. Sam Davis, deputy project leader for the JT-60SA, expressed confidence that the device will bring them closer to achieving fusion energy. He highlighted the collaboration between over 500 scientists, engineers and 70 companies from Europe and Japan.

EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson praised the JT-60SA as the most advanced tokamak in the world and emphasised the potential of fusion to become a key component of the energy mix in the future. Fusion offers the advantage of producing no risk of catastrophic nuclear accidents and generating significantly less radioactive waste compared to current power plants.

The successful demonstration of "net energy gain" was achieved at the National Ignition Facility in the United States, which uses a different fusion method known as inertial confinement fusion. This method involves directing high-energy lasers into a small cylinder containing hydrogen.

The inauguration of the Japanese experimental nuclear fusion reactor represents a significant step forward in the pursuit of fusion energy. With ongoing research and development, fusion has the potential to revolutionise the energy landscape and provide a sustainable and clean source of power for the future.

  • The world's largest experimental nuclear fusion reactor has been inaugurated in Japan.

  • The JT-60SA reactor aims to explore the feasibility of fusion as a safe and carbon-free source of net energy.

  • Fusion involves fusing two atomic nuclei together, with the goal of achieving energy generation.

Source: france24

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