German physicists have launched a new nuclear fusion experiment that they hope will reinvent Germany’s clean energy sector. The Max Planck Institute used superheated hydrogen to create a miniscule and ephemeral amount of plasma in Greifswald, Germany. The experiment is considered the first stage of an ongoing effort to create cheap nuclear energy. While the technology is still far-off, the potential of a nuclear fusion based grid could wipe fossil fuels from the energy sector entirely. The device used to create the plasma, a tokamak, is cheap to build but the operation of the device is difficult, often discouraging the creation of nuclear fusion projects.
The project, which has been nearly a decade in the making, known as the Wendelstein 7-X is the largest tokamak device in the world cost over $400 million dollars to build. Nuclear fusion has long been touted as a possible solution for new energy but the issue of creating a fusion reaction that expends more energy than it consumes has been particularly tricky. Last year the Wendelstein 7-X generator succeeded into creating a helium-based plasma for a few moments for cooling. That same year, Germany reported that 78% of all energy needs from renewable sources. In a nation with a powerful emphasis on clean power, the first steps of nuclear fusion would rocket its progress.
Germany has previously declared that it wants to double up on total percentage of renewable energy in the sector by 2035. Along with its northern neighbor Denmark, Germany is widely considered a model for renewable energy resources, something its fellow Western nations have been lagging in. With advances such as the Wendelstein experiment underway, the rest of the world has a lot to catch up to if it wants to completely remove itself from fossil fuels and dependency on oil.