MIT Close to Presenting a Feasible Nuclear Fusion Reactor

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has announced that they have received a final push in the form of a $64 million investment, which will allegedly help them take the final step in the development of a working nuclear fusion reactor. The investment group includes MIT’s internal financial support organization called “The Engine”, the Italian energy company Eni, and the “Breakthrough Energy Ventures” investment consortium.

After 25 years of research, MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center has presented a new reactor technology to the investors, called the “ARC” (affordable, robust, compact), and which costs only a couple of billion dollars. This may sound like a lot, but fusion reactors are very efficient, work on fuel that is abundant on Earth (like deuterium for example), give out significantly more energy for a given weight of fuel compared to fission reactors, and are generally much safer.

Contrary to nuclear fission reactors that split the atom into two smaller ones while releasing heat, fusion is the merging of elements into a new whole which is heavier than the mass sums of the two. For example, deuterium is combined with tritium, and the fusion generates helium, neutron, and a massive amount of energy which is released in the process. This is exactly what happens in the Sun and all stars, but doing it here on Earth and inside a nuclear fusion reactor is challenging due to the various technical complexities that are involved.

MIT, however, promises that they have solved almost everything by now, and by 2025 they will be able to introduce a safe, scalable, carbon-free, and limitless energy source that is going to solve humanity’s growing energy supply problem, open new possibilities in space exploration, and change everything forever. First, the team will build a 50-megawatt prototype fusion reactor, while the first wave of commercialized solutions will be at the level of 200 megawatts. If these promises prove to be accurate, the arrival of the ever-elusive nuclear fusion reactor technology comes in a critical time when humanity is under threat from the drastic climate changes that are attributed to conventional fuel pollution.

Bianca Van der Watt

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