When Should We Expect to See Nuclear Fusion Technology?

Sustainable and feasible energy production is something that researchers have been working on for a really long time now, and so far the ultimate form of sustainable energy is nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion is a process that can provides tremendous amounts of power for a long period of time with very little impact on the environment, the concept behind nuclear fusion is to produce the same kind of environment that exists within our sun or any other star, but at a much smaller level. There has been work going on nuclear fusion technology ever since the 50s.

So when should we expect to see this technology? Is there has been work going on related to it for so long now, we should have made progress right? Well, the answer to this question is no, despite years of research, scientists are still held back by one major issue: the laws of physics. So far, if a properly working nuclear fusion plan were to be set up, it would take a lot of power to work, much more than what it will be able to produce, many scientists believe that it might take as much as 50 more years before we make a major breakthrough.

In order for nuclear fusion to take place, the atoms inside of the reactor need to constantly collide with one another, stars manage to fuse their atoms quite easily since they have massive gravitational pulls and very strong magnetic forces acting on them as well. Unfortunately, as humans we cannot produce such strong forces of attraction without sacrificing a lot of energy. Basically, the fusion reactions that we are currently capable of producing are not self-sustaining, you also need tremendous amounts of heat energy to keep the reaction continuous.

Another issue with nuclear fusion is that even if we are able to generate the amount of energy needed to fuse atoms for an extended period of time, we will need to find some way of containing it. Should we fail to do so, expensive equipment can come to harm, however that is about all the damage that will happen since the moment a reactor gets breached, the atoms will not be able to fuse, so we do not have to worry about an entire neighbourhood being wiped out in case of a malfunction.

Nuclear fusion technology is far off, but we are making progress, we can expect to see the first nuclear fusion reactor to be switched on in 2025 for the first time, this massive international project is called ITER and is currently being constructed. As long as there are no setbacks (keep your fingers crossed) we should be able to get an idea of how close are we to making use of nuclear power to create energy that does no harm to the environment and can keep our energy needs fulfilled for decades at a time. Nuclear fusion is far, but we are heading towards it steadily.

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A More Efficient Way of Obtaining Hydrogen From Water

We are always looking for newer and better ways of generating energy, hydrogen is a pretty great fuel for energy production, however, harvesting this element is a bit difficult, which is why it is having a hard time in becoming a mainstream fuel source. Luckily, scientists and South Korea have recently developed a newer process for extracting hydrogen from water, making the production of hydrogen more efficient than the water electrolysis systems that we have been using up till now.

The new device for hydrogen production was built using an older design of electrolysis technology known as solid oxide electrolyser cell. The team behind the new design consists of scientists from UNIST and the KIER, along with from the Sookmyung Women’s University as well. The basic working in this design is the same as with other electrolysis systems, a current is used to split the molecules within water and then the molecules are harvested, but what sets it apart is the fact that the electrodes and the electrolyte are both solid-state.

Using solid-state components has a number of advantages, one being that the electrodes work at higher temperatures and do not need as much electricity as liquid-state systems, there is also lesser corrosion and you do not need to monitor the liquid as frequently. This system is much more efficient, however it is far from perfect, and the biggest hurdle with solid-state systems is that they can be setup to allow only one kind of ions to pass through at a time, meaning that the amount of hydrogen that can be produced at a time is limited.

Fortunately, the newer system that scientists have developed provides a workaround for this problem, the new system is a hybrid of solid-state and liquid-state electrolysis, the system makes use of mixed-ion conductors to transport oxygen and hydrogen molecules at the same time, greatly improving efficiency. Basically, the hybrid system causes water electrodes to take place at both electrodes, multiplying the amount of hydrogen being made.

The hybrid system, using a mixed-ion conductor and layered perovskite electrodes managed to produce around 1.9 L of hydrogen in an hour, using a cell voltage of 1.5V and operating at a temperature of 700 degrees Celsius, making it four times more efficient than currently used electrolysis systems and a great thing about this setup is that even after running it continuously for 60 hours, no signs of performance degradation were seen.

If this method of harvesting hydrogen does get implemented on a large scale, then it can definitely provide a significant boost to our current hydrogen production capabilities, researchers are hopeful that their hybrid solid-state system manages to bring a change to how hydrogen is currently being generated.

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Should You Consider Solar Solutions For Your Home?

The sun is perhaps one of the biggest sources of renewable and sustainable energy that we have at our disposal, and one of the best things about it is the fact that it can be accessed from anywhere on our planet. Solar energy solutions have been becoming popular since the technology has become developed enough to be used in households. People are starting to set up solar solutions in their homes that harvest energy from the sun and store it in batteries for later use. Many electrical companies are beginning to provide products and packages to promote solar set ups, such as Tesla’s slim home batteries and IKEA’s solar solutions.

One issue with solar and storage solutions is that they can be pretty expensive, this leads to the question that should you bother making such a huge investment? Before answering that question, we should first take a look at what sort of solar solutions are currently being offered.

Tesla’s take on home solar storage is its PowerWall, a solar solution that the company claims is completely maintenance free and produces next to zero noise. The PowerWall costs a staggering 5,900 pounds and will come with an app that lets you monitor your electricity generation. Nissan; a car manufacturer has come up with its own solution that makes use of its electric vehicle batteries to store electricity for home use, Nissan claims that their solution, called xStorage is the most affordable one in the market, costing around 4,850 pounds.

Electric car manufacturers are not the only companies that are trying to break into this market, renowned battery producers such as Varta and electric companies like EDF and Eon are also selling home batteries and solar panels. Varta’s system consists of home batteries as big as washing machines and costs around 3,380 pounds, Eon and EDF are partnering with third parties and other companies such as LG and Tesla to provide customers with home solar solutions that will be able to bring down people’s electricity bills.

Even IKEA is providing solar batteries, they claim that their system will be able to reduce annual energy costs by up to 70%, IKEA’s price tag for their solar batteries is 3,000 pounds, excluding solar panels, so you can expect the total cost of their solution to be around 6,000 pounds.

Now that we have looked at what sort of solutions are currently in the market and how much they cost, it is time to decide whether they are worth it or not. Solar solutions cost a lot but they will help you save significantly in the long run, an average solar solution will cost around 5,000 pounds with everything installed, and depending on your electricity usage you should break even on this investment in 5 to 6 years.

A solar solution will help you lower cost and become more independent in terms of energy production, as long as you have it installed properly, it should definitely improve your energy consumption cost.

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