Nuclear fusion reactors
The extensive research carried out by SCK•CEN brings nuclear fusion a step closer. This technology – currently still a distant prospect – should facilitate sustainable and safe nuclear energy production in the long term. Fusion reactors do not produce long-lived radioactive waste.
A fusion reactor requires deuterium and tritium (two hydrogen isotopes). Deuterium is plentiful in seawater and tritium is produced from lithium, which is also derived from seawater - an infinite energy source! We still have a long way to go before nuclear fusion actually produces sustainable energy. The technical and practical challenges are huge.
The construction of the ITER test fusion reactor in Cadarache in the South of France represents a significant step forward. Many research centres throughout the world – including SCK•CEN – are joining forces in this project in order to develop and refine the technology.
Belgium, with SCK•CEN as the coordinator, has been involved in the ‘broader approach’ to nuclear fusion since 2009. This Japanese-European initiative aims to develop technologies and conduct research that cannot be executed in ITER. This is crucial for the construction of commercial fusion reactors after ITER.
More info: Nuclear fusion