While there are many stories about China copying and stealing technology, after its success in quantum computing by a photon facility, it now surpasses the international multibillion nuclear fusion project ITER.
Scientists achieved a sensation in a Chinese research reactor: at 150 million degrees Celsius, they fused the nuclei of two atoms for ten seconds. Last Friday, the largest and most modern fusion reactor in the Asian country went into operation in the Chinese Southwest province of Sichuan. Nuclear fusion is considered to be a form of energy for the future, and a fusion reactor should also be built in the Bavarian town of Penzberg. As the state media now report from the People’s Republic of China, there was a sensation right at the beginning of the work. The scientists succeeded in something that has seldom been achieved anywhere in the world: They managed to maintain a nuclear fusion for ten seconds. This is remarkable as it requires an enormous amount of energy. 150 million degrees – researchers succeeded in merging two atoms in a fusion reactor. Similar to two magnetic poles, the two positively charged atoms repel each other, which is why it takes a lot of heat to fuse their nuclei. According to a report by ORF, the new research facility in China uses an artificially generated magnetic field to generate temperatures of even more than 150 million degrees Celsius. For this reason, the reactor is also known as the “artificial sun” – in fact, the innermost part of the sun only reaches a tenth of this temperature. The principle: the hotter it gets in the reactor, the faster the atoms move in it – and the greater the chance that they will accidentally collide, causing nuclear fusion. This is seen as a beacon of hope in the search for other sources of renewable energies that could benefit electricity generation, for example. Since an extraordinary amount of energy is released by the fusion of the atomic nuclei, this method could in the long term represent a clean and climate-friendly alternative to energy generation using fossil fuels, since neither greenhouse gases would be released nor waste would be created. Nuclear fusion is perceived as as a climate-friendly alternative to fossil fuels.
Nuclear fusion is also being researched in Germany: the nuclear fusion research facility at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Greifswald. In addition, nuclear fusion is considered less controversial than, for example, nuclear fission as practiced in conventional nuclear power plants. At the moment, however, the generation of energy through nuclear fusion is still a long way off. The municipality of Penzberg in Bavaria recently rejected the high-tech company that wanted to build the nuclear reactor *. The problem: To fuse the atomic nuclei, far too much energy is currently required to generate the necessary heat. In reactors like the “artificial sun” in China, scientists are researching how the amount of energy can be kept as small as possible.
The Munich company „Marvel Fusion“ wants to settle in Penzberg and develop a fusion power plant there that produces CO2-free energy. According to their own statements, the Scientific Advisory Board also includes a Nobel Prize winner in physics. Allegedly it is about an investment of around two billion euros. Marvel Fusion wants to produce climate-neutral electricity with a fusion power plant . The company would like to build a demonstration plant in Penzberg The total investment would amount to around two billion euros . According to the company, the goal is to develop a commercial fusion power plant that is based on laser technology and produces CO2-free energy. „We have to find ways to meet the global energy demand without conventional sources,“ said managing director Moritz von der Linden. The company was founded in July 2019. Its seat is in Munich. According to its own information, it currently consists of 30 employees. Its science and technology advisory board includes Gerard Mourou, who received the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for inventions in the field of laser physics. „Marvel Fusion“ first wants to build a demonstration system called „Proxima“ on an urban plot of land in the Nonnenwald industrial park. According to the company, construction is scheduled to start in May 2021. With the facility, it wants to provide “proof of the laser-induced inertial fusion concept”. von der Linden spoke of „experiments that are unique in the world“. It was only three years ago that commercial fusion power plants were possible. First a demonstration system, then a prototype in Penzberg If the proof is successful, the prototype of a fusion power plant called “Antares” will be built – also in the forest. “Marvel Fusion”, which would also relocate its headquarters to Penzberg, wants to create around 150 new jobs in Penzberg by 2023; In addition, one is dependent on suppliers who may settle in Penzberg or the vicinity, it said. As “Marvel Fusion” announced on Wednesday, around 200 to 300 million euros will be invested in the first step, the “Proxima” demonstration system. For the “Antares” prototype, it should be around 1.5 to 2 billion euros. Investors, it was said, include the fund “BlueYard Capital”, Albert Wenger as a private investor (he is also managing partner of the New York fund “Union Square Ventures”) and industrial investors. Marvel Fusion wants to buy urban land in the Nonnenwald industrial park The project had already been presented to the Penzberg city council behind closed doors. This was repeated in a public setting on Tuesday evening. The property on which “Marvel Fusion” wants to set up is located behind the Penzberg printing center next to the Roche plant. It belongs to the city. The city council must first approve the sale of the approximately 29,000 square meter property – this should happen this year, the city said.
Marvel Fusion declared that Truck technology plays an important role . The talk was of laser technology, artificial intelligence, quantum computers and precision robotics. A fusion of hydrogen protons and boron isotopes takes place by means of laser energy, which creates positively charged helium particles, it said. Von der Linden stated that no long-lived radioactive products were created. There is also no risk of an uncontrollable chain reaction. The result is a safe, virtually inexhaustible, low-neutron fuel. According to physicist Jörn Meissner, who is responsible for radiation protection in the company, safety is guaranteed at all times. If the laser is switched off, the fusion ends. Marvel Fusion explains qustions about radioactivity .When asked, Meissner said that it was a safe system for employees and the environment. In terms of radiological classification, the inertial fusion facility is similar to a cancer therapy facility, for example the West German Proton Therapy Center in Essen or any other proton therapy center. In the case of “Marvel Fusion”, a laser-driven proton beam hits boron and is supposed to trigger a fusion reaction. Boron compounds are used, for example, in the detergent industry on an industrial scale and are radiologically harmless. During the fusion, Meissner continues, a proton beam also hits parts of the plant, which results in a low level of radioactivity. According to the company, the spare and wear parts come to wear off – this takes about 20 days – in a 30 square meter room. There is neither a delivery nor a removal of radioactive material, he said. The representatives of TÜV Süd declared on Tuesday in the town hall that the construction and operation of the building and operation are approved according to the Radiation Protection Act. According to TÜV Süd, which provides technical advice to the company “Marvel Fusion”, the exposure is far below the natural radiation exposure. According to von der Linden, the prototype in Penzberg should already be used to generate electricity – on Tuesday he spoke of a 100 megawatt output. The electricity market will probably not enter the electricity market until 2030, it was said on Wednesday when asked. „Marvel Fusion“ stated that the goal was an electricity price of five cents per kilowatt hour.
And since decades youi also have the ITER project. A test reactor for nuclear fusion is being built now in Cadarache, France. The international billion dollar project ITER was in the meantime on the brink of collapse, but is now being built. All buildings are already on the extensive ITER site – including the huge reactor hall.The structure will be 30 meters high and the lower part of the cryostat can be seen on the floor. Cryostat is the name for the high vacuum pressure chamber that encloses the reactor core and is intended to cool it. Temperatures there will one day be close to absolute zero. At the end of May, the base plate of the cryostat, which weighed more than 1,000 tons, was lowered into the concrete pit. This was also breathtaking for Kirsten Haupt: „The operation was carried out with a tolerance of three millimeters. That is sometimes unimaginable. And everything went well.“ Inserting the bottom plate was the first step in the assembly of the ITER test reactor. In the next few years, the other reactor parts will have to be put together like a puzzle. Processes like those inside the sun In the innermost lies the combustion chamber, in shape comparable to a lying closed tire. A hydrogen plasma heated to around 150 million degrees Celsius circulates in it. Super strong magnets ensure that the particles are kept away from the walls and accelerated. In principle, the same processes take place in the combustion chamber as in the interior of the sun. The plasma is so hot that the hydrogen atomic nuclei overcome their repulsion and fuse to form helium. In the process, very high-energy neutrons are released. This energy is used – according to the plan – to heat water. The resulting steam drives turbines. But that won’t happen in Cadarache yet. ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is just a test reactor in which it is to be demonstrated that nuclear fusion is technically controllable and that as much energy can actually be obtained as calculated by the ITER researchers. In 2015, ITER was on the brink of collapse. It is thanks to Bernard Bigot that assembly of the ITER reactor could even begin. When Bigot was appointed General Director in 2015 by the seven contractual partners, including the EU, the USA, Russia and China, the project was on the verge of collapse: the costs had gotten completely out of hand, the schedule was wasted, the organizational structure was chaotic. Bigot got ITER back on track. He assures that he is fully on course for the completion of the reactor by the end of 2025. Trial operation is then due to begin, and normal operation ten years later. And then the decisive step follows: the transition to industrial use. Patience is required The ITER General Director looks far into the future: „My hope is that around the years 2050 to 2055 – a good decade after we have demonstrated the feasibility with ITER – nuclear fusion will begin to play its part in the energy supply of mankind. “ Bernard Bigot speaks at the ITER construction site. Not a few consider even that to be optimistic about purpose. The main criticism of ITER is that many billions of euros are now being spent on a project that will not be able to contribute anything to solving acute climate problems in the foreseeable future. Bigot is assuming 20 billion euros for the construction phase alone. However, China didn´t want to wait for so long and made its own project at the nuclear fusion reactor in Sichuana nd this time even had a first success.
However, if nuclear fusion has further progress as now in the Sichuan nuclear fusion reactor and could be used for energy production, this would revolutionize the energy, climate change and military policy as quantum computing will do. Some idealistic futurists, Star Treckies and science fiction fans already dream of a WARP engine for their spaceships which will bring them to outerspace by light speed..