Proponents believe fusion reactors could solve the climate-change crisis by providing inexhaustible energy with zero emissions and no chance of a meltdown. But the challenge of creating fusion reactions is enormous: Scientists and engineers essentially have to create a small star. Hydrogen must be heated to about 100 million degrees Celsius — six times hotter than the sun’s core. At that temperature, hydrogen is no longer a gas but a plasma, a soupy mix of charged particles that is incredibly difficult to sustain. Scientists have been trying to contain the plasma using a tokamak, a doughnut-shaped structure with an extremely strong magnetic field, but thus far have been successful only for seconds. Several retired fusion physicists, including Ernesto Mazzucato and Daniel Jassby of Princeton’s Plasma Physics Lab, have described ITER as a boondoggle run by bureaucrats that is likely to waste its potential cost of up to $65 billion.
The Week 28th March 2021 read more »