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Max Planck Society: How will a fusion power plant work? 

Where does fusion research stand today? The new film, "Energy of the Future. Fusion 2100", gives an entertaining and informative nine-minute account: A school class in 2100 re-enacts how the development of the fusion energy source proceeded. The film was made by Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP) on behalf of EFDA (European Fusion Development Agreement) with funding from the European Union. 

The futuristic lesson is backed up with documentary photos and animations and gives the viewer an entertaining survey of the principles, development and status of fusion research. Like the sun, a fusion power plant is to derive energy from fusion of atomic nuclei. To ignite the fusion fire one has to succeed in confining the fuel, a hydrogen plasma, in magnetic fields and heating it to temperatures of over 100 million degrees. The next step in world-wide fusion research on the way to this almost inexhaustible energy source is the ITER international test reactor, construction of which is to begin next year at Cadarache, France. 

Involved Institutes 
- Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP)   
- The ITER project

Research Field: High Energy and Plasma Physics/Quantum Optics

Background Information (Wikipedia):

 Fusion power is the power generated by nuclear fusion reactions. In this kind of reaction, two light atomic nuclei fuse together to form a heavier nucleus and in doing so, release a large amount of energy. In a more general sense, the term can also refer to the production of net usable power from a fusion source, similar to the usage of the term "steam power." Most design studies for fusion power plants involve using the fusion reactions to create heat, which is then used to operate a steam turbine, which drives generators to produce electricity. Except for the use of a thermonuclear heat source, this is similar to most coal, oil, and gas-fired power stations as well as fission-driven nuclear power stations. 

As of July 2010, the largest experiment was the Joint European Torus (JET). In 1997, JET produced a peak of 16.1 megawatts (21,600 hp) of fusion power (65% of input power), with fusion power of over 10 MW (13,000 hp) sustained for over 0.5 sec. In June 2005, the construction of the experimental reactor ITER, designed to produce several times more fusion power than the power put into the plasma over many minutes, was announced. Project partners were preparing the site in 2008. The production of net electrical power from fusion is planned for DEMO, the next generation experiment after ITER. Additionally, the High Power laser Energy Research facility (HiPER) is undergoing preliminary design for possible construction in the European Union starting around 2010.