Nuclear fusion ‘could be on the grid in 15 years’

Scientists at MIT are working with new private company Commonwealth Fusion Systems to develop a working pilot plant

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By Priyanka Shrestha

A new initiative aims to put nuclear fusion power on the grid in 15 years.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have joined forces with new private firm Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) to produce a working pilot plant.

The device will be capable of generating 100MW of fusion power and is hoped to ultimately help achieve a full-scale prototype of a fusion power plant – generating a zero carbon, combustion-free source of energy.

Fusion involves light elements such as hydrogen, smashing together to form heavier elements such as helium, which release vast amounts of energy in the process.

The researchers aim to carry out “rapid, staged research” leading to a new generation of fusion experiments and power plants based on advances in high temperature superconductors.

CFS has received investment worth $50 million (£28m) from Italian energy firm Eni for the project, dubbed SPARC.

MIT President L. Rafael Reif said: “This is an important historical moment: Advances in superconducting magnets have put fusion energy potentially within reach, offering the prospect of a safe, carbon-free energy future.”