A research group at MIT says nuclear fusion is within years of being commercially viable. And a European project, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), is also aggressively moving toward development of nuclear fusion power. Is this the dawn of a new nuclear age—safe, sustainable energy from nuclear fusion?
The joke about energy from nuclear fusion is that it is always just 20 years away. In the 1950s, researchers hoped that they could solve our energy crisis by building a sun on earth. They predicted that it would be possible to harness the sun’s energy-making processes, known as nuclear fusion. If successful, this process would allow humans to use the abundant hydrogen on earth to provide limitless energy, while avoiding the potential catastrophic risks of nuclear fission reactions and generation of toxic nuclear waste.