188.8.131.52 Nuclear fusion
Energy from the fusion of heavy hydrogen fuel (deuterium, tritium) is actively being pursued as a long-term almost inexhaustible supply of energy with helium as the by-product. The scientific feasibility of fusion energy has been proven, but technical feasibility remains to be demonstrated in experimental facilities. A major international effort, the proposed international thermonuclear experimental reactor (ITER, 2006), aims to demonstrate magnetic containment of sustained, self-heated plasma under fusion temperatures. This 10 billion US$ pilot plant to be built in France is planned to operate for 20 years and will resolve many scientific and engineering challenges. Commercialization of fusion-power production is thought to become viable by about 2050, assuming initial demonstration is successful (Smith et al., 2006a; Cook et al., 2005).