50 years on, nuclear fusion still hasn’t delivered clean energy

Excerpt from the February 17, 1968 issue of Science News

ITER fusion reactor

PARTICLE POWER Fifty-year-old fusion predictions didn’t pan out, but scientists haven’t given up on harnessing the power of the stars. ITER, an international effort to build a fusion reactor in France (shown above), is well under way.  

ITER Organization/EJF Riche

Power within 30 years

Controlled thermonuclear fusion is moving so well that full-scale development could begin within five years, says Dr. David J. Rose….It might take 20 to 30 years beyond that before fusion could move into the power grid, though, he predicts. — Science News, February 17, 1968

Update

Governments and private-sector start-ups are still trying to wrangle thermonuclear fusion — the process that lights up stars and ignites hydrogen bombs — for clean energy, with limited progress (SN: 2/6/16, p. 18). One of the biggest ongoing projects is ITER in France, an international effort to build the first magnetic fusion reactor that pumps out more energy than it consumes. ITER plans to flip on the machine in 2025. Optimistic estimates put the first fusion power plants on the grid no sooner than 2040.

Maria Temming

Previously the staff writer for physical sciences at Science News, Maria Temming is the assistant editor at Science News for Students. She has bachelor's degrees in physics and English, and a master's in science writing.

More Stories from Science News on Physics

From the Nature Index

Paid Content