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European nuclear fusion test sets energy production record

In a breakthrough experiment, European scientists used 0.21 milligrams of fuel in a nuclear fusion reaction to generate enough clean energy to power an American home for more than a day–roughly equivalent to 0.001% of the amount of fossil fuel needed to produce the same amount of electricity, according to the Guardian.

Working at the Joint European Torus in England in December, scientists fused a fuel comprised of a pair of hydrogen isotopes, deuterium and tritium, at exceptionally high temperatures in a plasma stream, a reaction that creates helium and enormous amounts of energy much as nuclear fusion does in stars.  The test produced a 5-second burst of 69 megajoules of energy, the most produced by the facility; an average American home uses 50 megajoules of energy daily.

At an industrial scale, researchers believe a commercial nuclear fusion power plant could use one kilogram of the isotope fuel to produce as much energy as 10 million pounds of coal, natural gas or oil without releasing any greenhouse gases.  To further research, the 45-year-old JET facility will cease operations, with scientists moving to a site capable of safely containing higher energy experiments.

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