The current source of power or electricity is becoming limited day by day due to increased consumption with the growing population. The ratio of demand and supply is becoming narrower with the rate of the power being produced. Moreover, the alternative source of power which is obtained from Sun contributes to tiny fraction. In this condition nuclear energy as a source of power seems to be the best solution of all the haphazard to fulfil demand and supply ratio. It is convenient in the terms of less of the input and more of the output. Nuclear fission, which splits atoms apart to generate energy, is used in today’s nuclear reactors. Nuclear fusion, on the other hand, breaks atomic nuclei together to release energy — and it’s not yet a commercialized technology. However, the nuclear energy is difficult to stabilize.
The nuclear fusion reaction which takes place in nuclear energy is difficult to harness until stabilized because of its high instability. Until it is stable the nuclear energy is far from giving benefit and more likely to be unstable. Fusion relies on hot plasma, which requires intense pressure and very high temperatures. On method scientists have devised is called “magnetic confinement”, where hot plasma is contained using magnetic fields. One of the premier company carrying this concept of controlling nuclear energy is based in USA.
The reactor has been named Norman after the late founder and professor,Norman Rostoker. Norman is designed to operate at the temperatures between 50 million and 70 million degrees centigrade, which are in the temperature range of the core of the sun. Norman cost around $100 million to build, and can fit five time more plasma in it than the previous reactor.
The ideology the reactor is dependent on two key criteria; first, building a reactor that can hold plasma for “long enough” and secondly, at a “hot enough” temperature. Norman is designed 100 feet in length and 45 feet wide at Foot Hill Ranch facility in Southern California, which estimate to consume 750 megawatts of power in a short go when it’s holding the plasma that is needed to create a nuclear fusion reaction. Tokamak is the most well-known fusion technology based on the donut-shaped rings. This technology turns hydrogen fuel into plasma under intense heat and pressure, and shaped by magnetic coils. At high heat, the plasma particles can fuse, and release fusion energy. The largest and most mature of the tokamak designs is from an international coalition building ITER, or the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project.
Article by Vaishali.