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Clean Energy Has Exciting Future

The inside of a fusion reactor. Image from ITER Org

Ever since humans discovered reliable ways to generate and harness power, there has been a quest to create energy that is powerful, reliable, cheap, and recently, clean. Science fiction is filled with examples of civilizations discovering clean and reliable sources of energy, energy that does not create emissions or nuclear waste, but is reliable and does little to no damage to the environment. 

But now, energy generation like this is not just a theory, it is actually physically possible, in the form of fusion reactors. 

So, what is fusion? Fusion is a form of nuclear energy. When people hear of nuclear power today, it is almost always about what is called nuclear fission. Nuclear fission is a method of creating energy by breaking apart large, unstable atoms such as uranium and plutonium. This is an efficient and reliable method of creating energy without greenhouse gas emissions at the cost of creating lots of radioactive byproducts, such as nuclear waste and irradiated water. 

Nuclear fusion however, is different. Instead of splitting apart heavy and large atoms, fusion combines small and lightweight atoms such as hydrogen. 

By combining the atoms at intense pressure, the atoms fuse together and release a massive amount of energy, according to the US Department of Energy and the World Nuclear Association. 

Peter Gammelgard, who teaches Physics and AP Calculus at Bear River, believed there is a bright future ahead in the generation of fusion power.

“I think that in my lifetime or yours, we will get our power from the fusion generation,” he stated.

He believed that there is an endless amount of potential regarding fusion power.

“The potential for this is amazing,” He commented. “During my lifetime we dreamed about power like this, but just a few months ago, they [the scientists] managed to make it work!”

Stars do this all the time, and fusion is the reason that the sun creates energy. In fact, we have known how to create fusion reactions for a long time. Hydrogen bombs use fusion energy, for example. 

However, the primary problems with fusion right now are not the creation of a fusion reaction, but three other problems of containing the reaction safely, keeping the reaction going as long as we need to, and pulling more energy out of it than is put into it. But, despite all these problems, humans have actually been able to do it. 

At Lawrence Livermore national laboratory in California, a fusion reaction was created that generated more power than was put into it on December 5th, 2022. 

2.05 megajoules of energy was put into the reaction, but the reaction generated 3 megajoules of energy, which is about 1.5 times the energy put into it, according to the New York Times. 

Scientists have proven that it can be done, and if it can be done at a small scale, it is certainly very possible that it can be done at much larger scales as well.

With the new possibility of being able to harness the power of nuclear fusion reactions. This will have a massive impact on the entire planet.

Our energy needs and need for environmental stability could be solved by the very same solution. We are on the cusp of a potential new era of energy generation and students from Bear River now have the chance to benefit greatly from this.

The students that currently attend bear river are going to graduate at almost the perfect moment to either go on to college and get a degree in nuclear physics or engineering or can get a job in many power companies and make a massive profit if and when fusion power is developed to the point where it can be done on a large scale.

In addition, Gammlegard explained a new potential benefit of fusion power: the ability to stop and reduce conflicts from arising.

“Wars have been fought over energy, but now with reliable clean energy, that may not be a problem anymore.”

Altogether, the recent breakthroughs in fusion power can lead to a better, brighter future. And with grit and hard work, the students of Bear River can lead the way there.

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Clean Energy Has Exciting Future