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UCSD Scientists Want To Bottle Nuclear Fusion

Goal is to Create Renewable Energy

Audio

Aired 9/14/09

Fusion is best known for powering the sun and stars. But UC San Diego researchers are studying ways to transform the process of nuclear fusion into renewable energy on Earth.

Russ Doerner, a research scientist in the UCSD Jacobs School of Enginerering's Mechanical and Aerospace Department, is using a $7 million grant to study how fusion can become an effective green energy source.

Above: Russ Doerner, a research scientist in the UCSD Jacobs School of Enginerering's Mechanical and Aerospace Department, is using a $7 million grant to study how fusion can become an effective green energy source.

— Fusion is best known for powering the sun and stars. But UC San Diego researchers are studying ways to transform the process of nuclear fusion into renewable energy on Earth.

A team of researchers from UC San Diego, MIT and UC Berkeley have received a $7 million research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The researchers will use the five-year grant to study ways to replicate the sun on Earth and harness its energy.

UCSD scientist Russ Doerner hopes the research will lead to development of a containment vessel that could withstand the heat of the sun.

"How do you make a wall that can survive in close proximity to something that's on the order of the temperature of the sun?" Doerner asks. "So the walls are trying to melt and basically disintegrate. And we're trying to study ways to prevent that from happening."

He says a nuclear fusion power plant would not produce the same type of radioactive waste as current fission-powered nuclear plants do.

Doerner also says a nuclear fusion power plant would not generate any greenhouse gas emissions.

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