UKAEA EDUCATION CHANNEL
Fusion - Putting the Sun in a bottle
Fusion energy is one of the greatest quests in science. By copying the process that happens in the core of stars here on Earth, we can create a source of almost limitless clean electricity to power our planet. Fusion poses fantastic engineering and technical challenges that a generation of young people now in schools can one day play a role in solving.
How do you control a plasma ten times hotter than the Sun? Or develop robots to maintain fusion reactors? And what are the pros and cons of different energy options? The education resources on these pages cover these topics and many more.
About UKAEA and Culham
The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) runs the UK's national fusion laboratory at Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire. It also hosts the world's largest and most successful fusion experiment, JET, for European fusion researchers. UKAEA is working on many of the hi-tech areas involved in creating artificial stars. Scientists and engineers from around the world carry out tests and experiments at Culham as they move from fusion research toward the development of the first full-scale power stations that will bring fusion energy to all.
By 2050, an expected rise in global population from seven billion to ten billion and better living standards could lead to a two to threefold increase in energy consumption. New, environmentally sustainable forms of electricity will be required to meet this demand.
As the world moves to a low-carbon energy future, nuclear fusion offers a secure, long-term source of supply, with important advantages. These include:
- No greenhouse gases;
- Energy-efficiency: the fusion fuel contained in just a phone battery and three litres of water could supply the average European person’s electricity for seven years;
- No long-term radioactive waste;
- Safety advantages over today's nuclear energy (nuclear fission);
- Almost unlimited fuel supplies - fusion fuel is found all over the planet in seawater and the Earth's crust.
About the Education Channel
Explore key concepts in fusion energy in the sections below and help students discover the many careers that fusion research offers.
The channel is designed to aid teaching about physics, engineering, energy and the environment. You will find resources and activities about fusion and the need for sustainable energy, showing how science is being applied to an amazing real-world project: building a star on Earth.
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