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Canadian General Fusion, a company backed by Amazon, is set to build a demonstration nuclear fusion reactor in Oxfordshire, the BBC reports, adding the facility will be 70 percent the size of a commercial reactor.
The news comes a couple of weeks after the UK government said it would start work to create a regulatory framework for supporting research and development of nuclear fusion technology to enable the delivery of clean and safe energy.
Nuclear fusion has been garnering growing attention amid government efforts to pursue an energy transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable sources of energy. To date, the biggest project aiming to recreate the process by which the Sun generates energy is ITER in France, which is planned to begin operation in 2035, after a series of delays.
Another, very different, fusion project is taking place in California. The researchers behind the General Atomics DIII-D National Fusion Facility recently published a paper suggesting a “compact nuclear fusion plant” concept can achieve 200 megawatts (MW) of net electricity after the energy cost of the fusion process through the use of relatively tiny, self-sustaining tokamaks powered by pressurized plasma, rather than the mega-tokamak of the ITER project.
In the UK, the Atomic Energy Authority is building the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP), a prototype fusion power plant it plans to be operational by 2040. Last month, the AEA announced a breakthrough that would allow the components of the fusion reactor to last longer despite the intense heat produced during the fusion process, potentially bringing commercially viable fusion closer to reality.
China is also working on nuclear fusion. In May, researchers working on the country’s artificial sun project announced they had achieved plasma of 120 million degrees Celsius for close to two minutes. The duration of the successful experiment shows hope, but it also shows the long road nuclear fusion has yet to go to reach commercial viability.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.