Scientists in the UK have set a new record for energy generated by nuclear fusion, an achievement heralded as a significant step toward conquering one of the biggest scientific and engineering challenges.

Researchers from the EUROfusion consortium more than doubled previous records achieved in 1997 at the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) site in Oxford using the same fuel mixture of deuterium-tritium (D-T) to be used by commercial fusion energy powerplants.

In total, 59 megajoules of sustained fusion energy was demonstrated over the duration of the five-second experiment by scientists and engineers working on the Joint European Torus (JET), which is the world’s largest and most powerful operational tokamak. During this experiment, JET averaged a fusion power of around 11MW.

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The previous energy record from a fusion experiment, achieved by JET in 1997, was 22 megajoules of heat energy. The peak power of 16MW achieved briefly in 1997 has not been surpassed in recent experiments, as the focus has been on sustained fusion power.

The record and scientific data from these experiments are a major boost for ITER, the fusion research mega-project supported by seven members – China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the USA – based in the south of France

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