Is nuclear fusion the clean energy source of the future? The Korean Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) nuclear fusion reactor at the National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI) in South Korea just set a thrilling new record of “70 seconds in high-performance plasma operation,” an increasingly steady state that brings us closer to a working, commercial nuclear fusion reactor.
South Korea worked to build KSTAR for over a decade, and the reactor began operating in 2008. On the NFRI website, the organization says fusion energy is an “optimal alternative” to dirty energy sources like fossil fuels, as fusion is clean, efficient, and inexhaustible. Because the alternative energy source is abundant, NFRI calls it a “peace energy,” saying fusion won’t ignite conflicts among nations.
NFRI said in a statement, “The world record for high-performance plasma for more than a minute demonstrated that KSTAR is the forefront in a steady-state plasma operation technology in a superconducting device. This is a huge step forward for realization of the fusion reactor.”
Nuclear fusion is said to be safer than nuclear fission, the reaction that occurs in today’s nuclear power plants, because fusion doesn’t create as much radioactive waste.
South Korea is part of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, an international effort to construct a commercial nuclear fusion reactor also pursued by the United States, European Union, China, Japan, India, and Russia. NFRI Director General Keeman Kim said, “We will exert efforts for KSTAR to continuously produce world-class results and to promote international joint research among nuclear fusion researchers.”