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Nuclear fusion, the ultimate power source, the energy of the future’ that is how it has been described, yet the major problem is that so far it has been virtually impossible to create on a sustainable level.
Traditional nuclear power plants operate reactors that run on nuclear fission. Nuclear fusion in comparison is safer, easier to contain, easier to shut down, far more energy efficient, and produces less radioactive waste.
The goal of nuclear fusion has been pursued for around 60 years, yet due to the demanding conditions that must be met for fusion to take place it has never been fully achieved. However just recently Lockheed Skunk Works has announced that it may be just ten years away from producing a fusion based nuclear power plant.
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Many designs for fusion reactors involve massive investment and construction of huge scientific apparatus which can take years to be completed before they can start to generate power. The resources and infrastructure needed to research and build fusion reactors can only usually be provided by governments, not exactly an expense that they want to shoulder during such tight economic times.
Lockheed’s proposal is enticing due to the fact that it is far smaller than other fusion reactor designs. The plan uses a compact cylinder, rather than the traditional bulky ring, which provides a far stronger magnetic containment field and leaves fewer points where energy can escape.
Lockheed plans to start testing a prototype model in 2017, and scale it up to a full production model by 2022.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com