Thermonuclear energy - Obtained by fusion
Tritium is used in experiments at JET (Joint European Torus). Which is near Oxford, UK. It is a tokamak reactor – a donut-shaped chamber in which a magnetic field traps a heated gas, i.e. plasma. It must reach enormous temperatures, of the order of 100 million degrees Celsius, for thermonuclear reactions to start. – We have reached the point where we can test in practice what we have been preparing for for years. – explains Dr. Joelle Mailloux, co-leader of the JET science team.
If successful, the trials in the UK will pave the way for efficient and relatively clean energy production. One gram of hydrogen “burned” in a fusion reactor can give it as much as 8 tons of crude oil or 11 tons of hard coal. A few hundred kilograms of deuterium and tritium would suffice a year to meet the energy needs of the entire world. Thermonuclear reactors are also expected to produce relatively little radioactive waste.
The results of the experiments in JET will be used in the creation of ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor). This is a huge reactor being built in Cadarache, France. Financed by the European Union, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the USA at the cost of USD 22 billion. The first launch of ITER is scheduled for 2025, 10 years later the reactor is to operate on a mixture of deuterium and tritium. If everything goes according to plan, it will be the first installation to obtain more energy from thermonuclear fusion than was needed to initiate it.