Why Fusion Will Power the Race to Net Zero
Governments around the world are targeting massive reductions in carbon emissions by 2050.
With population growth and high energy demand, renewable energy sources will be needed to achieve a net zero scenario. However, renewable resources such as wind and solar are intermittent and need a clean energy baseload source to complete them.
This infographic from General Fusion explores fusion’s potential to provide clean, abundant, reliable and cost-competitive energy.
How Fusion Energy Works
Fusion powers the Sun and stars, where great forces compress and heat hydrogen plasma, fusing it into helium and releasing vast amounts of energy.
Here on Earth, scientists use hydrogen isotopes – deuterium and tritium – to power fusion plants. Deuterium is abundant in seawater while tritium can be produced from lithium, a common chemical element used in batteries, glass and ceramics.
In fusion technology, light atomic nuclei are compressed under intense pressure and heat to form heavier ones and release energy. The fuel is heated to about 100 million degrees Celsius. At this temperature, hotter than the sun, a fully ionized gas plasma forms. The plasma is then ignited to create fusion.
Unlike nuclear reactors that split atoms, fusion power plants atoms are fused to generate energy. However, one of the challenges for fusion is ensuring that fusion power plants can generate more energy than they consume.
A Sustainable Energy Source
Fusion is considered one of the safest sources of energy as its radiation profile is similar to widely used medical and industrial applications such as cyclotrons for cancer treatment.
Fusion power plants have minimal land use and can be built close to cities. They are powered only by hydrogen from water and do not emit carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.
The amount of deuterium present in one liter of water, for example, can produce as much energy as burning 300 liters of diesel, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. This means that there is enough deuterium in the oceans to meet human needs for millions of years.
In addition to energy production, the fusion is expected to benefit other markets as well:
- Spatial movement
- Marine propulsion
- Off-grid energy
- Hydrogen and/or clean fuels
- Industrial heat
Faced with the latest energy crisis, countries – led by the United States, Russia, China, India, South Korea, Japan and European Union countries – are investing billions of dollars to harness the power of fusion. In fact, the White House recently announced a plan to accelerate the commercial development of fusion over the next few decades.
Among the companies that are leading the development of the technology is General Fusion. The Canadian company has built and tested 24 different plasma injectors and, in 2018, ordered the largest and most powerful plasma injector globally.
After years of refining the plant, General Fusion is building a first-of-its-kind fusion demonstration facility at the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s Culham Center for Fusion Energy.
Once established, fusion power has the potential to provide the kind of baseload power needed for a sustainable economy.
General Fusion seeks to transform the world’s energy supply with the most practical path to commercial fusion energy. Click here to learn more.