Bernard Bigot receives the Commander of the Legion d'honneur, France's highest civil award, during a ceremony at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris, on February 18, 2015. He said Wednesday a new test at the fusion reactor in Britain moves researchers one step closer to using it as a reliable energy source. File Photo by Patrick Kovarik/EPA
Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Scientists at the world's top fusion experiment in Britain set an all-time record for the amount of energy released in a sustained fusion reaction, moving researchers closer to using fusion as the reliable low-carbon energy source.
EUROfusion scientists and engineers at the Joint European Torus facility in Oxford said Wednesday it generated 59 megajoules of sustained fusion energy. The record is roughly equal to 30 pounds of the explosive TNT.
Researchers said the results more than double the old energy record of 21.7 megajoules set in 1997 at the same facility.
"A sustained pulse of deuterium-tritium fusion at this power level -- nearly industrial-scale -- delivers a resounding confirmation to all of those involved in the global fusion quest," Bernard Bigot, director-general of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project said in a statement.
ITER is a fusion research project based in the south of France, supported by members China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States.
"For the ITER Project, the JET results are a strong confidence builder that we are on the right track as we move forward toward demonstrating full fusion power," Bigot said.
Tony Donne, EUROfusion's program manager, said the test results put researchers on the right track to making fusion-supplied energy a reality.
"This achievement is the result of years-long preparation by the EUROfusion team of researchers across Europe," Donne said in a statement. "If we can maintain fusion for five seconds, we can do it for five minutes and then five hours as we scale up our operations in future machines.
"This is a big moment for every one of us and the entire fusion community. Crucially, the operational experience we've gained under realistic conditions gives us great confidence for the next stage of experiments at ITER and Europe's demonstration power plant EU DEMO, which is being designed to put electricity on the grid."