Fusion-energy research progress discussed at IAEA conference

During the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference this week, researchers and other officials discussed the latest technological advances in nuclear fusion energy.

One participant in the discussion was Steve Cowley, director of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in England. During his speech, he noted the work of the IAEA in the early stages of nuclear fusion technology development, specifically in its promotion of international cooperation.

“The world is getting warmer, with emissions going from bad to worse, it is hopeful that alternative sources of energy such as fusion technology can provide electricity worldwide by the middle of this century,” Cowley said.

A major topic of this event was the development work on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a joint project by China, India, South Korea, Japan, the Russian Federation, the European Union and the U.S. At this facility, currently under construction in southern France, researchers aim to develop a reactor that is able to generate an energy source similar to the sun. 

“Though we may compete in the advances made at the national level in fusion science and technology, we gain from the constructive outcomes," Cowley said. "The competition to find the solutions to a problem benefits the goals of ITER. Fusion prototype reactors are being built at the national level, but what is also motivating scientists like us, is the global eagerness to see an end result that is positive for humanity.”

The end goal for this facility, according to the IAEA, would be a nuclear fusion reactor that could sustain itself through fusion reactions while also producing excess energy.

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International Atomic Energy Agency

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