Published Date : 14 Oct 2022
The nuclear fusion market is surging, with an overall revenue growth expectation of hundreds of millions of dollars within the next eight years, and is growing at a notable CAGR from 2022 to 2030.
Fusion is the sun's power at high temperatures and pressures, atoms collide and "fuse," releasing massive amounts of energy. That means that even small amounts of fuel contain a significant amount of intrinsic energy. That intrinsic energy is released during fusion. Fusion energy is created by pressing atomic nuclei together, breaking the nuclear force that repels atoms from each other and releasing a massive amount of power.
One gram of fuel can produce 90,000 kilowatt hours of energy. To put it another way, it would take 10 million pounds of coal to produce the same amount of energy as one pound of fusion fuel. Commercial power plants will be able to provide clean, safe, and abundant energy anywhere in the world once science and engineering are proven.
By 2050, the global population will have increased by 33%, and economic growth means that energy demand could be five times higher than it is now. Unfortunately, today's energy system is unsustainable in terms of the environment, economically unstable, and promotes global insecurity. We must meet the world's increasing energy demand while transitioning to clean, affordable, and abundant energy sources. This will necessitate a breakthrough in clean energy technology. However, that breakthrough is not a pipe dream. Fusion is not a science fiction concept. Fusion energy is now routinely produced in laboratories all over the world. Until now, however, each fusion experiment has required more energy to control the fusion reaction than the fusion reaction has released. Commercial fusion will alter the global energy system.
Existing nuclear power plants rely on fission, which is the release of energy when heavy atoms like uranium decay. Fusion, on the other hand, generates energy by fusing very light nuclei, typically hydrogen, which can occur only at extremely high temperatures and pressures. The majority of efforts to harness it in reactors involve heating the hydrogen isotopes deuterium (D) and tritium (T) to form a plasma a fluid state of matter containing ionised atoms and other charged particles and then fusing (see 'Fuel mix'). Fusion begins at lower temperatures and densities for these isotopes than for normal hydrogen. Unlike fission, D-T fusion produces some radiation in the form of short-lived neutrons but no long-lived radioactive waste. It is also safer than fission because it can be easily turned off.
Nuclear Fusion Market Report Scope:
|Forecast Period||2022 to 2030|
According to an October survey by the Fusion Industry Association (FIA) in Washington DC, which represents companies in the sector, there are now more than 30 private fusion firms globally; the 18 firms that have declared their funding say they have attracted more than US$ 2.4 billion in total, almost entirely from private investments (see 'Fusion funding'). Advances in materials research and computing, which enable technologies other than the standard designs pursued by national and international agencies for so long, are critical to these efforts.
Europe is at the forefront of fusion energy research. Nuclear fusion could become the primary source of energy in the second half of this century, and Europe is well-positioned to lead the way if its resources are managed properly. EURO fusion, a new initiative that will pool fusion research in Europe, will be officially launched on October 9th. Because europe have such a broad and well-organized fusion programmed, Europe has the opportunity to strengthen its world-leading position here.
APAC also has great initiatives ongoing for nuclear fusion technology. China's "artificial sun" has five times hotter sun exposure with over 17 minutes. The experimental advanced superconducting tokamak (EAST) nuclear fusion reactor reportedly maintained a temperature of 158 million degrees Fahrenheit (70 million degrees Celsius) for 1,056 seconds, according to the Xinhua News Agency. The accomplishment moves researchers’ one step closer to creating a sustainable energy source that is almost unlimited. The Chinese experimental nuclear fusion reactor broke the previous record, set in 2003 by France's Tore Supra tokamak, which kept plasma in a coiling loop at similar temperatures for 390 seconds.
The need for energy will rise significantly in the next years due to increased urbanisation, rising population, and economic expansion on a global scale. The UN predicts that by 2050, there will be 9.7 billion people on the planet, up from 7.6 billion in 2017. By 2050, almost two-thirds of the world's population (up from 55% in 2018) will reside in urban areas, according to the present rate of urbanisation, which sees the addition of a city the size of Shanghai to the global urban population every four months or so. It is a big problem to meet the world's fast rising energy demand while lowering dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted due to energy use worldwide in 2019 was 33.3 Gt, the greatest amount ever recorded and around 45% more than in 2000. (23.2 Gt)
The number of people without access to electricity has decreased significantly and is now below one billion. Despite significant progress, over 11% of the world's population still lacks access, primarily in rural areas. The European Commission (EC) issued a policy paper titled Energy 2050 Roadmap in December 2011. This was very positive about nuclear power, stating that it can make "a significant contribution to the energy transformation process" and is "a key source of low-carbon electricity generation" that will keep system costs and electricity prices low. "Nuclear energy will remain in the EU power generation mix as a large-scale low-carbon option." The paper examined five scenarios that could lead to the EU's low-carbon energy economy goal of 80% CO2 reduction by 2050, based on energy efficiency, renewables, nuclear power, and carbon capture and storage (CCS). All scenarios show that electricity will have to play a much larger role than it does now, nearly doubling its share of final energy consumption.
The D-T fusion reaction generates neutrons in fusion reactors, which are absorbed in a blanket of lithium that surrounds the core. Lithium is converted into tritium and helium through neutron absorption. To slow down the high-energy (14 MeV) neutrons, a one-meter thick blanket must be used. The absorption of neutron kinetic energy heats the blanket. The coolant (helium, water, or Li-Pb eutectic) removes the heat energy, and the extracted energy is used to generate electricity in a fusion power plant using traditional methods. If tritium production is insufficient, other sources must be used, such as using fission reactors to irradiate heavy water or lithium with neutrons. Extraneous tritium is difficult to store and handle.
The challenge has been to promote a device that can heat the D-T fuel to a high enough temperature and hold it there long enough to release more energy through fusion reactions than is required to keep the reaction going. Because the D-T reaction is the primary focus of attention, there are long-term hopes for a D-D reaction, but higher temperatures are required.The amount of energy produced by fusion reactions is enormous four times that of nuclear fission reactions and fusion reactions can serve as the foundation for future fusion power reactors. First-generation fusion reactors are expected to use a mix of deuterium and tritium, two heavy forms of hydrogen. In theory, a terajoule of energy can be produced with just a few grams of these reactants, which is roughly the amount of energy required by one person in a developed country for sixty years.
Fusion is expected to meet humanity's energy needs for millions of years. Fusion fuel is abundant and simple to obtain: deuterium can be extracted cheaply from seawater, and tritium can be made from naturally abundant lithium. Future fusion reactors will not generate high activity, long-lived nuclear waste, and a fusion reactor meltdown is virtually impossible.Importantly, nuclear fusion does not emit carbon dioxide or other glasshouse gases into the atmosphere, and thus, along with nuclear fission, could play a future role in mitigating climate change as a low-carbon energy source.With a renewed global focus on sustainable energy, at least 35 nuclear fusion companies have raised a total of $2.3 billion in private funding. Bill Gates invested in Commonwealth Fusion Systems, and Jeff Bezos was involved in General Fusion, to name a few Big Tech names who have backed these ventures.
Existing nuclear fusion techniques still necessitate massive amounts of energy, and it does not have to be a large event or take place on a small scale for a short period of time. "Igniting" refers to the system's ability to sustain self-sustaining fusion reactions. Today, the world's largest fusion reactor is studying plasma on a large scale, but there is still a long way to go.The initial costs of constructing nuclear power plants are high. Other investments include enrichment and processing of fuel, waste control and elimination, and facility maintenance. Electricity generation in nuclear reactors is more cost-effective than in gas, oil, and coal plants, and it is a cost-competitive source of energy.
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