Scientists in Germany have switched on a nuclear fusion experiment that they hope will provide a solution to finding clean and safe nuclear power.
A small amount of hydrogen was released into the device by German chancellor Angela Merkel as she launched the device at the Max Planck Institute in Greifswald.
The hydrogen was then heated to a super-hot gas known as plasma, similar to that found in the Sun, in an attempt to study how the energy could be harnessed to generate power. At its hottest, the device reaches 100 million degrees celsius.
The device itself won’t generate energy, but will be used to test technology that could hold plasma into place in nuclear reactors. The technology is considered to be several decades away, but proponents argue that it could be a viable replacement for fossil fuels and nuclear fission reactors.
Another reactor in France uses an electric current to hold the plasma in place, while the facility in Greifswald uses a complex system of magnets to do the same thing. This, the team said, will keep the plasma in place for longer.
Germany has spent over £1 billion on the project, with £300 million of that being put into the device in Greifswald.