Switzerland, long known for its engineering prowess in fields from timekeeping to coffee making, is turning its eye and resources to a bigger goal–unlocking the promise of fusion.
Officials at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne are busy upgrading their plasma physics center to play a key role in a global effort to turn the fusing of hydrogen atoms into a usable, abundant energy source. Their efforts are expected to contribute to the success of the multibillion-dollar ITER megaproject, whose goal is to create a fusion reactor that produces 500 megawatts of electricity from 50 megawatts of input power.
Scientists have been working on nuclear fusion for decades because huge amounts of energy can be produced from small quantities of common ingredients. In fact, the energy content that can be extracted from two bottles of water and a lithium coin battery is equal to that released by burning around five barrels of oil. And, unlike the fission process, fusion produces no radioactive waste that must be carefully contained for centuries.
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