Igniting a sun on earth

Researchers from UM are collaborating on a global project aiming to ignite a miniature ‘sun in a lab’. They hope to use the technology that makes this feat possible to create a system that produces and harnesses ten times more energy than it uses.

Nuclear fusion was the process that created the sun. Bringing together researchers from thirty-five countries all over the world, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project is attempting to recreate this reaction by heating plasma, a gaseous mixture of negatively charged electrons and highly charged positive ions, to 150 million degrees Celsius.

Dr Ing. Nicholas Sammut and Dr Ing. Andrew Sammut are working to characterise the superconducting coils which are core elements of the machine. The coils are used to confine the plasma, controlling its shape and direction of movement inside the reactor chamber. Keeping the plasma safely contained is essential as it could destroy the entire reactor should anything go wrong. This would create a large-scale, carbon-free energy source.

If this technology is harnessed, fusion reactors will be able to produce reliable electricity with very little pollution. The world would have a large-scale, carbon-free energy source. It would be the answer to all our sustainability prayers. 

Read all about this on THINK — UM's Research magazine.