Top 5 Facts: Fusion power

1) Star power

Fusion is the process that powers the Sun and all other stars, and involves fusing together the nuclei of hydrogen atoms, to produce heavier helium atoms and energy.

2) Extreme heat

To replicate this on Earth, temperatures of 150mn°C (270mn°F), ten times hotter than Sun’s core, are needed to remove the hydrogen atoms’ electrons and expose the positively charged nuclei.

3) Plasma soup

This separation creates plasma, an electrically charged gas and the fourth state of matter. As the plasma is heated, the nuclei move faster and collide at speed, fusing together and releasing energy.

4) Abundant fuel

The most efficient fuel used for fusion reactors is deuterium, extracted from water and tritium, which is produced from lithium found in the Earth’s crust. 1kg (2.2lb) of fusion fuel could provide the same amount of energy as 10,000 tons of fossil fuel

5) Magnetic chamber

To achieve extreme temperatures, fusion reactors contain a ring-shaped magnetic chamber called a ‘tokamak’, which uses magnetic fields to contain and control the plasma.

Find out more about fusion power in Issue 70 of How It Works magazine, on sale now! Pick up a copy from all good retailers, or order it online from the ImagineShop. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can also download the digital version onto your iOS or Android device. To make sure you never miss an issue of How It Works magazine, make sure you subscribe today!

How It Works issue 070 Fusion Power