Scientists at MIT have proposed a revolutionary design for a fusion reactor that will bring practical nuclear energy technology – and with it, a limitless power source – to the masses in less than a decade.
Named ARC, the planned reactor will have a tokamak or donut-shaped geometry and generate helix-like magnetic fields. As of now, the reactor will be much smaller than other planned or actualized reactors in existence, but it would generate the same amount of power.
Fusion power is created when pairs of hydrogen atoms bond, forming helium; the act of melding in turn releases massive amounts of energy in the form of energy-charged gas, known as plasma.
Fusion reactors essentially trap and harness this energy via magnetic fields — this is where the ARC reactor comes into play. The entrapment of this fusion power can also increase the level of "achievable power."
The design of the ARC follows "exactly the same physics" as France-based reactor-in-the-making ITER, which has a projected cost of $40 billion.
The scientists of the MIT team promise that their planned reactor will be "designed for basic research on fusion and also as a potential prototype power plant that could produce significant power" drawn from decades of prior research. The ARC will also boast "a tenfold boost in power" and will be able to deliver electricity to at least 100,000 people.
Read MIT's press statement about the ARC fusion reactor here.