North Korea claims that it has used special Korean technology to achieve what the rest of the world has not, nuclear fusion. Why is the world working on perfecting nuclear fusion? Simple. Nuclear fusion would represent a cheap limitless supply of green power.
As Physorg points out, the European Community, Japan, Russia, China, India, South Korea and the US are working together to create a working fusion reactor by 2030. They are all pouring large amounts of money into the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), located in Cadarache, southern France.
Meanwhile North Korea, the land of power outages, claims to have created a fusion reaction on April 15th, the birthday of Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s founding president. According to the CIA World Fact Book, North Korea has crumbling infrastructure, ongoing food shortages and ongoing economic problems. All of which point to North Korea’s boast of achieving a nuclear fusion reaction as more wishful thinking than reality.
Nuclear fusion happens when light element atoms like hydrogen atoms are smashed together releasing a large amount of energy. But in order to create that reaction a lot of technical details have to be worked out.
Under fusion, a huge jolt of heat, to nearly 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million degrees Fahrenheit) would kickstart the process, fusing atomic nuclei and containing them in a charged gas called a plasma.
Getting the process started is only one problem. Another is how to how to sustain it and contain the plasma so that the cloud of particles do not escape
Right now we seem to be at the “and then a miracle happens” stage. The amount of energy needed to start the reaction is huge. Large lasers have been built in the United States in an effort to provide that initial energy. so far the plan is to use 192 of these specially built lasers to achieve the jolt needed.
Tested for the first time in January, the lasers fire 40 times more power than the average consumption of the entire planet, albeit for only a few nanoseconds.
Those are an expensive few nanoseconds. The ITER project is expected to cost at least 10 billion euro or 12.7 billion dollars. The ultimate plan for ITER is as follows:
The idea is to have fusion in a reactor fuelled by two isotopes of hydrogen — deuterium and tritium — with helium as the waste product in addition to the energy.
The plasma would be contained in a magnetic field in a doughnut-shaped vessel called a tokamak.
The rest of the world is hoping to be able to achieve the above in the next 20 years. It’s not likely North Korea has either the technology, facilities or the money to have actually achieved a nuclear fusion reaction in April. If so, then the rest of the world would like know how.