Saturday April 29, 2017

Scientists are creating a miniature sun to harness its power

The tokamak is an experimental machine designed to harness the energy of fusion.

The tokamak is an experimental machine designed to harness the energy of fusion. (Visualization courtesy of Jamison Daniel, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility)

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The Hot Docs International Documentary Festival is underway in Toronto this weekend. In it's line-up is a documentary about nuclear fusion called Let There Be Light. It's about the feasibility of fusion as a carbon-free source of energy.  

The film explores two different approaches to achieving this holy grail. One is the very large scale, twenty billion dollar project called ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor), which is currently under construction in France.

ITER

Construction site of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) on July 11, 2014 in Saint-Paul-les-Durance, southern France. (Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty Images)

ITER is  described by Dr. Mark Henderson, the project's Microwave Heating System leader, as the largest ever scientific enterprise in the the world. The other is the much lower cost fusion research by the Burnaby, British Columbia company General Fusion, founded by Dr. Michel Laberge.  

Let There Be Light presents the notion that the advancement of fusion power and the ultimate construction of fusion power plants could be one of humanity's greatest achievements.