If you’ve watched Iron Man, you will surely be familiar with that glowing triangular thing stuck in his chest. The movie and the original comic book series gives little details about the mysterious technology used in that “arc” but this fictional source of energy is limitless and self-sustaining. Well, real life Tony Starks have got to their drawing boards to turn this fiction into reality and have succeeded. These are the engineers a MIT.
These engineers who are always willing to innovate and think out of the box have developed a modular fusion ARC reactor that generates the same amount of energy as its bigger counter parts. It is much bigger than the one fitted in Iron Man’s chest but the developers believe that following this principle, such arc reactors would become the main source of clean, renewable energy in the world within 10 years.
The fusion reaction takes place at very high temperatures when two hydrogen atoms combine to give helium and release a very large amount of energy. These reactions have been carried out before in very large reactors, like the ones in CERN, but the problem has always been the handling of the hydrogen plasma which becomes as hot as the core of the sun. Magnets are the answer.
Strong magnetic fields generated by the materials used have solved the problem. The proposed reactor uses barium copper oxide (REBCO) superconducting tapes which produce self-sustaining fusion energy in much smaller reactors. These new magnets can release 10 times more energy than conventional superconducting technology and runs into little trouble even when used for excessive periods of time.
According to the CEO of Tokamak Energy Mr. David Kingham, “Fusion energy is certain to be the most important source of electricity on earth in the 22nd century, but we need it much sooner than that to avoid catastrophic global warming.” He couldn’t be more right. And who knew that an idea from Iron Man would be the solution to this problem. Next up, maybe Jarvis becomes a reality too.