The idea of fusion power has intrigued scientists for nearly 100 years, when they first discovered the process that powers the sun and stars. A fusion reaction, which occurs when atoms fuse together, could generate four times more energy than today's fission reactors, and about four million times more than burning coal, without producing any greenhouse gases.
Additionally, the process does not generate long-term radioactive waste, fusion reactors cannot melt down, and fusion fuel (hydrogen) is readily available. Once scientists finally manage to create a sustained fusion reaction, it could be a huge game-changer for the energy industry.
ITER, a $22 billion dollar international megaproject in the south of France, is the best-funded fusion endeavor, paid for by the governments of its seven member nations. It hopes to be the first to demonstrate the viability of fusion by generating more energy than it consumes. But venture capitalists and billionaire investors are also pouring money into fusion start-ups, with hopes to commercialize fusion power within the next decade.
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