Worldwide several thousand researchers are working since 60 years to create a device which is capable of harnessing the energy from nuclear fusion reactions. The example is in front of us as the Sun provides energy for the life on Eath since billions of years. In Europe fusion research is coordinated by the Eurofusion consortium, which involves about 2000 researchers and engineers. In Hungary about 50 people contribute to the fusion research effort.
The road to the fusion reactor is described in the European Fusion Roadmap. The main problems are not in the basic physics processes but rather of technical and technological nature like selection of suitable structural materials, plasma control. Although in the last 50 years the performance of fusion machines increased faster than the performance of computers there are still a lot of problems to be solved. The next step on the roadmap is the ITER experiment which is being built in worldwide collaboration in southern France. This device is expected to demonstrate the industrial-scale production of fusion energy. Considering the time needed to do experiments on ITER and build a next generation of fusion machines it is expected that the first fusion reactor will deliver electricity to the grid somewhere at the beginning in the second half of the 21st century.
Dr. Sándor Zoletnik
Coordinator of the Hungarian EUROfusion consorcium