Why Don't We Have Nuclear Fusion Power Yet?

Views 663 197
96% 16 734 652

Thanks to LastPass for sponsoring this video. Check out LastPass here: bit.ly/2GbcEci
Fusion power is supposed to save us from fossil fuels, so when is nuclear fusion going to be a viable option and why has it been so elusive?
Hosted by: Stefan Chin
SciShow has a spinoff podcast! It's called SciShow Tangents. Check it out at www.scishowtangents.org
Support SciShow by becoming a patron on Patreon: www.patreon.com/scishow
Dooblydoo thanks go to the following Patreon supporters: Greg, Alex Schuerch, Alex Hackman, Andrew Finley Brenan, Sam Lutfi, D.A. Noe, الخليفي سلطان, Piya Shedden, KatieMarie Magnone, Scott Satovsky Jr, Charles Southerland, Patrick D. Ashmore, charles george, Kevin Bealer, Chris Peters
Looking for SciShow elsewhere on the internet?
Facebook: facebook.com/scishow
Twitter: twitter.com/scishow
Tumblr: scishow.tumblr.com
Instagram: instagram.com/thescishow


Published on


Feb 6, 2019

SciShowscienceHankGreeneducationlearnpassword managerrecoverrandom password generatorgenerate passwordlastpassfusionfutureenergypowernuclearlaseralternativefissionplasmaalpha heatingignitionicfmcftokamaktritiumturbulentiterjeteastmagneticneutronneucleusexplosionimplosion




Loading link...

Add to:

My playlist
Watch later
Comments 2 437
What about liquid walls? Liquids can't be embrittled. Like mercury! Or maybe producing tonnes of radioactive mercury isn't a good idea...
St.Michael 3 days ago
All we need is the green new deal to pass into law, then we will all be saved. All praise AOC and her immense intelligence.
Mandi Blackwell
Mandi Blackwell 5 days ago
I love how SciShow fails to mention that patents are pending/approval pending on fission that is completely clean... using waste it can run for 50+ years powering a city of ~100k people on about 3 spent rods.... I mean wtf, why hasn't this been approved yet? www.fastcompany.com/3043099/this-nuclear-reactor-eats-nuclear-waste www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2016/09/leslie-dewan-explorer-moments-nuclear-energy/
Rainer67059 6 days ago
Hey, some organisations in the world don't want us to have a good energy supply. That's why they constantly make up stories why we should stop to use energy soruces. First, they came in the 1970s with the scare that we would run out of oil. They convinced oil companies and OPEC to stop taking oil out of the earth and make up for the loss by selling the last oil they took out for much more money per barrel. But this didn't work out well. OPEC an the companies couldn't resist to take more oil out of the earth and make new profits. So prices went down again. We have a lot of oil for a long time to come, possibly even forever. Then they tried it with the exhaust. In the 1980s they told us, our cars produced toxic exhaust, we'd have to withdraw from using them. But it turned out you can turn off all the toxic exhaust by unleaded fuel, catalytic converters and similar measures with other "polluters". It didn't infringe on the performance of the cars, and it didn't make them more expensive so it didn't force us to drive worse cars because we can't afford more expensive cars. Then in the 1990s, they came up with the claim that CO2, previously called clean, is not so clean after all. We can see, they use the method, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Since nuclear (I mean fission) is an even better source of energy than oil, gas and coal, they made up even bigger tall-tales about the supposed evils of nuclear. All the stories why CO2 and fission-nuclear are bad, exist only because some increasingly powerful organisations don't want us to have a good energy supply. This should be obvious. These organisations possibly engage in withholding fusion from us. They successfully withheld thorium liquid reactors from us for half a century, unsuccessful to withhold them forever. The intro is a bad intro. THE INTRO IS A BAD INTRO. Fission-nuclear is better than oil because it has a higher energy density. Uranium and thorium are more plentiful on earth (oil is pretty plentiful). They've got a lower EROEI factor, their energy is cheaper. Fusion has the same advantages over fission. That's the reasons why to want fusion. Not a search for "clean" energy.
Lon Groth
Lon Groth 8 days ago
Until fusion becomes a viable source, there's always the LFTR Reactor alternative. Much safer with no chance of core meltdown, less waste, produces energy at a lower cost than hard water reactors, they can be placed anywhere since they don't require a massive water source, even coal powered plants could be retrofitted at their existing locations. These would drastically reduce emissions, so many benefits for the here and now, and the technology is proven to work. Most countries are making great strides in development, including a new variation on LFTR technology, the DFR (Dual Fuel Reactor,) being developed in Germany. . You should re-visit that subject, a lot has changed since your 3 minute video released in 2012.
Bazooka Llama Productions
ill fart in a can and power the world with MY OWN spicy heat ;)
Theodore 10 days ago
Solar Cells + Batteries are enough to power the world. Just spend the same $$billions$$ we spend now on fuels and nuclear.
marc bell
marc bell 12 days ago
This is the most important engineering project. You don't want China to build the first practical fusion reactor.
Axel Shark's Theoretical Discovery
It won't work for obvious reasons. A fusion reactor is not a star.
Axel Shark's Theoretical Discovery
@Joseph Stalin best waifu btw The sun has no input that's my point. The fusion reactor has energy losses like a boss.
Joseph Stalin best waifu btw
@Axel Shark's Theoretical Discovery usvid.net/video/video-mZsaaturR6E.html
Axel Shark's Theoretical Discovery
@Joseph Stalin best waifu btw Oh yes they do!
Joseph Stalin best waifu btw
@Axel Shark's Theoretical Discovery Mass and gravity have nothing to do with fusion reactors you pepega.
Axel Shark's Theoretical Discovery
@Joseph Stalin best waifu btw Imagine its mass and gravity in comparison to a tiny fusion reactor.😂
Safari Lester
Safari Lester 15 days ago
Reminds me of spiderman 2
Gary Molaskey
Gary Molaskey 17 days ago
A false narrative that continues to be proclaimed in mainstream science used here saying that Co2 is a greenhouse gas which it is not...it collects to close to the ground to be one therefore having little effect on the climate.
DeathTrooper 67
DeathTrooper 67 18 days ago
The research for nuclear fusion is speeding up. Why this video doesn't tell you that? Fusion may be closer then you think.
John B
John B 21 day ago
The Amish were right, lol, maybe if we lived a lot more like them the planet wouldn't be stuffed soon.
todd livingstone
todd livingstone 23 days ago
take a look at clint sewards work folks, d-d or d-b aneutronic sustained reactions, are past tense. it was my honor to have met the man
TheLoneCabbage 26 days ago
If/when we succeed in producing fusion energy, I think we all need to agree to go back to designing everything like we did in the 50's during the atomic age.
Eternia Kerbal
Eternia Kerbal 26 days ago
I wonder what 1 million degree Hydrogen plasma would be like in the atmosphere if it were to leak? Kind of like a propane tank rupture, except it auto-ignites in oxygen?
Seth Padakandla
Seth Padakandla 25 days ago
Eternia Kerbal it would just expand and cool. So no meltdown.
Love is like Nuclear Fusion, its easy to start fusion (relatively) the hard part is keeping the reaction. Its easy to be in love, hard part is staying in love
Edward Gilmour
Edward Gilmour Month ago
Fusion 30 years away? Wrong ! the nearest Fusion reactor is just 8+1/2 minutes away; Just 150,million Km away +/- just a few million km! I'd prefer to use that fusion reactor by just building more energy collect collectors plus we need some energy storage system too! hint: Gravity would help!
Simon Follett
Simon Follett Month ago
Can the minimum amount of constant energy imput needed to sustain a fusion reaction be measured by knowing the maximum mass of a white dwarf? If so, then could it not be mathematically proven whether a Q ratio bigger than one is ever achievable on earth? Does Einsteins' E=MC2 prove that clean or cleanish efficient fusion is impossible on earth? The space-time continuum is a mass dispersing gravity reduction process. Fission is reductive, fusion is not. Surely fusion would have to involve the impossibility of controlled destruction of space-time.
Simon Follett
Simon Follett Month ago
Maybe not a white dwarf but the lowest mass of any active star.
Honrarri 9K RPM
Honrarri 9K RPM Month ago
Huuurrry uuuupppp ! I want my fusion now !
Rau Kenneth
Rau Kenneth Month ago
Thorium fuel in a liquid salt enjoyment seems to best improvement. Forget fusion for now.
i420x Gaming
i420x Gaming Month ago
Goku and vegita did the impossible and gained fusion so why cant we o-O
Pup314 Month ago
Forget nuclear plants of either kind. Why can't we just use liquid nitrogen turbines? Use ambient planetary heat from the atmosphere , ground, and/or sea to heat it to gas to turn a turbine, and use some solar power electricity to cool it back down to start the process over again by cooling the nitrogen back down to liquid temps. Obviously this would be a closed system and nontoxic, non-radioactive, and non-combustable if the system breaks.
Pup314 Month ago
We've had fusion for 4.5 billion years all 93 million mile away from Earth. It is called the Sun. All you need to use it is a solar panel and some plants, and you can get electricity and food for energy.
Johnathan Hautz
Johnathan Hautz Month ago
maybe instead of trying to fuse Tritium and deuterium, we should replace Tritium with Lithium. My reasoning for this comes from brown dwarfs, which are sub-stellar bodies with an approximate minimum mas of 13 Jupiters. This is enough for brown dwarfs to being thermonuclear reactions that fuse Lithium and Deuterium. Granted this is nowhere nearly as powerful as stellar bodies with a minimum mass of about 80 Jupiters which is enough to begin a thermonuclear reaction to fuse Hydrogen to Helium.
I Created An Account For This
React to my reactor.
cass c
cass c Month ago
Les Grossman
Les Grossman Month ago
We do it's just not effective yet
ThunderTurtle Month ago
There’s gotta be some way to use radioactive fission waste for energy. I wonder how much that’s been explored.
arturo0727 Month ago
Fusion energy is 30 years away? Back in the 90's they said it was 20 years away, some one is not doing the math. 😂
Aske Laszkiewicz
Isn't the stellarator better than the tokamak? It creates more stability. And what is the reactor that fires tons of pins every second into the plasma? I think it's for stability but I'm not sure I think it's also to 'feed' the plasma. Please help...
Brian Coniguliaro
Brian Coniguliaro 2 months ago
Can the higs boson be used to “herd the kittens”?
Dom Joel
Dom Joel 2 months ago
For whatever reason, it is always 10 years away.
David Stinnett
David Stinnett 2 months ago
I honestly don't think energy producers will allow it to happen. Fossil fuel companies can transition to being producers of clean energy and act as gate leapers of solar and wind, but fusion messes up the supply and demand that governs the price of energy. Too much supply hurts profits, ie, short of some type of major change in the way decisions are made, we won't ever get fusion.
icebluscorpion 2 months ago
You didn't mentioned LFTR... Why?
P Cochran
P Cochran 2 months ago
We will never run out of Thorium, or U238, for that matter. Fission is easy. Fusion is hard. Very hard.
Faultiplayer 2 months ago
profile pic matches lmao
James Scott
James Scott 2 months ago
While we're waiting around for fusion we should get busy building Thorium reactors.
Tsundere Child
Tsundere Child 2 months ago
Become muons are little distracted boyfriends that are expensive to produce and are here for a good time, not a long time.
Andrew Callaghan
Andrew Callaghan 2 months ago
-Why don't we have X technology? Because we're not at war or in some sort of race. If you want fusion now? start a war and you'll get it in a year or so.
Adam Churvis
Adam Churvis 2 months ago
Does ANYONE here remember the Baseball IHT fusion reactor? Not nearly as famous as the Tokamak, but it DID exist, and I was just wondering if anyone near the industry remembers it ever existing.
John Veneruso
John Veneruso 2 months ago
Solar Power plus onsite lithium battery storage (Tesla Powerwall). Or, Solar and Wind power with reservoir water energy storage. Or, solar and wind power with continent spanning high efficiency high voltage transmission lines. Or use the millions of EV cars spare battery capacity while they're plugged in to balance the load with zero cost to the utilities. Why mess with spent fusion containment vessels that are radioactive for over 100 years and the incredible cost of building those high-temperature, extremely high-pressure fusion containment vessels? Solar is already less expensive per kW than coal, oil, and natural gas and best yet, it's available right now!!! There are infinitely more homes powered by solar power than there are Earth-generated fusion power!!! So far over $23 billion has been spent on ITIR, an experimental fusion reactor that will produce by design zero output power to the grid. Currently commercial solar is 2 cents/kW (2019). If went spent that on commercial solar, we'd be happily generating 1,150 Gigawatts during the daytime for the next 25+ years.
Justin Beaird
Justin Beaird 2 months ago
I am convinced that I could live with 4-5 100w solar panels, but the batteries still suck and the ones that suck less are way too expensive.
TheLambo2 2 months ago
@UCbxdFa03xXcmkKucGX8IM9Q @UCbxdFa03xXcmkKucGX8IM9Q @ I am now 60, I heard this load of tripe when I was 10 years old and was looking forward to endless clean energy, every 10 years someone comes out with this bollocks. Its just around the corner. Horseshit. Its just an excuse to throw money away and keep these so called boffins in work at our expense. Leave it to people like Elon Musk and geniuses like him and stop with the vocal bollocks and help starving people. What a load of hot-air
TheLambo2 2 months ago
@UCbxdFa03xXcmkKucGX8IM9Q @UCbxdFa03xXcmkKucGX8IM9Q @ I am now 60, I heard this load of tripe when I was 10 years old and was looking forward to endless clean energy, every 10 years someone comes out with this bollocks. Its just around the corner. Horseshit. Its just an excuse to throw money away and keep these so called boffins in work at our expense. Leave it to people like Elon Musk and geniuses like him and stop with the vocal bollocks and help starving people. What a load of hot-air
Basil 2 months ago
Nuclear fusion reactors are not going to happen, ever. Just live with it and stop getting excited about something that will never happen.
Dee James
Dee James 2 months ago
Huhhh?... Hmmm? "Birkeland Current Generator" that can Burn up this Rediculous BullPuckey!
Sean Regehr
Sean Regehr 2 months ago
Those working on "Fusion energy" are lacking in knowledge clearly. They are more likely to destroy themselves and the earth than achieve success going down this road. Time will show and reveal the Truth. All I can do at this point is laugh real hard and enjoy the laugh. The situation is like watching primitive apes try to discern how to open a rock. lol Maybe you could do yourselves a favor and take a step back to re-evaluate all you do know. Based on what you do know, it should be obvious why these current approaches as well as everything tried and tested since you began have all failed and at a great cost of time, resources and capital that could have solved the world's problems many times over by now.
steve gale
steve gale 2 months ago
Did not understand any of what you said.
Hey Paulman
Hey Paulman 2 months ago
because fossil fuel companies dont want us to go green
Zack Yezek
Zack Yezek 2 months ago
ITER's unlikely to ever lead to energy producing fusion reactors. It's taking forever to go anywhere because it's run by a classic example of a dysfunctional, international government bureaucracy, and has no pressure to actually deliver anything. They're not even committed to START building a real net-power plant there until the 2040s! And whenever they miss deadlines they just move them back; there's no penalty for delay or nonperformance. My guess is that it'll be some sort of university-corporate partnership that produces the first useful fusion reactors. People who have all sorts of incentives to get a working prototype in more like 5 years than 50, and whose management structure isn't a crappy knockoff of the UN or EU. The MIT group is a decent bet, as are a few others. Somebody will be demonstrating real reactors while 'ITER' is still under construction.
X's Blog
X's Blog 2 months ago
This. Companies like General Fusion are the real game-changers and deserve more attention and support.
Ananya Sahoo
Ananya Sahoo 2 months ago
What is DEMO?
Andre P
Andre P 2 months ago
If tomorrow “”scientists” said they cracked fusion power. It was 100% safe. Needed no substrate. Generated no waste. It needed no maintenance. What’s more, they also developed a distribution network that was safe, efficient, was already in place, needed no maintenance and could be accessed throughout the world. Oh and yes, it was free to build...THE ONLY CATCH... is you could only turn on the reactor on for 12 hours a day... would you BUY stock in this company??? Now consider that everything said above is true. It’s the SUN... and we already have it in place.
Joseph Priolo
Joseph Priolo 2 months ago
a pellet inside a gold cylinder? Fusion cores are coming!
worbucks777 2 months ago
Turbulent Juice...here come the muscular Mannys!
Leisa Irwin
Leisa Irwin 2 months ago
How much nuclear waste is there already and where is it stored?
Leisa Irwin
Leisa Irwin 2 months ago
👋 Those aren't the droids you're looking for.
Maxwell Vandenberg
Maxwell Vandenberg 2 months ago
MIT designed a reactor with active cooling channels running through it and a design that allows the vacuum chamber to to more easily be replaced. Should make it easier to test different alloys quickly when they get it up and running in the next decade and a half or so. They got funding from a big energy company to get it off the ground. Maybe they can make a hybrid fusion/fission system and dissolve the radioactive materials in the liquid blanket after separating them out chemically? Then get them to decay to something stable faster by hitting them with more neutrons. Or just have a separate reactor that does that specifically.
Ty Farr
Ty Farr 2 months ago
promote truth thorium heavy water salt reactors check that out smart guy
steve gale
steve gale 2 months ago
Why? They are a total dead end.
Corrine Tsang
Corrine Tsang 2 months ago
China is going to the far side of the moon to mine Helium-3 for nuclear fusion.
Bandit Leader
Bandit Leader 2 months ago
But deuterium produces helium-3
Aeturnalis 2 months ago
hopefully... if anyone is going to get it right, it'll be China.
Didivs Ivlianvs
Didivs Ivlianvs 2 months ago
Simple. Climate "scientists" want to push the world into socialism before anything is done that solves peak oil/AGW.
dr.chapook dlzar orthopedic surgeon
I have brilliant idea. 1- use hydrogen from petroleum or melatonin hormone or other biological sources. 2- put laser machines inside the reactor that uses photons from the explosion to form laser and direct the beam outside the reactor
Joseph McCarthy
Joseph McCarthy 2 months ago
The solution comes in the form of the squared cubed law.
OriginalTharios 2 months ago
Until we crack gravity, or the production of antimatter, we'll never have fusion. We might be able to one day build a facility at the Jovian moons to take all their water and convert it into fuel for a planet-sized reactor...but that's it. They'll never be smaller than that without at least one of the two techs mentioned above.
Tall Troll
Tall Troll 2 months ago
Except we have already achieved fusion. The issues remaining are about getting it out of the experimental stage and making it a commercial source of energy, able to compete in the market with existing power generation techs. I don't understand what gravity or antimatter have to do with fusion, since neither is necessary or even particularly closely related to fusion energy. Also, FWIW, we do currently produce and store antimatter (in tiny quantities. Like 19 atoms tiny, but once it has been done, all that's left is engineering. Lots and lots of engineering)
Khelthrai Hellbane
Khelthrai Hellbane 2 months ago
Easy steps to get a very strong password: 1-Type a "shape" on your keyboard. 2-Substitute the actual letters for leet 3-Roll a joint or something, you were basically done at step 1.5
Robin Gilliver
Robin Gilliver 2 months ago
Rusty Shakleford
Rusty Shakleford 2 months ago
add the first and last letter from the website at the beginning and end of the password and you have a unique and rememorable password for every website, further insulating you from a hacking event. also, hit the joint again
Jan Sitkowski
Jan Sitkowski 2 months ago
Emm... As have been brought up by some people... Why use something as inefficient as water-turbines to collect energy from heat? Because it's pretty inefficient.
Tall Troll
Tall Troll 2 months ago
Mostly because it's a mature technology, with existing infrastructure and supply chain. Various research groups and companies are looking at alternative ways of generating useful energy in other ways, but so far as I am aware there isn't a currently available, commercially useful device that can do the job
JavierCR25 2 months ago
Why don’t we just improve rocket tech so we can send all the nuclear waste to outer space. Or to the sun!
Diana Gibbs
Diana Gibbs 2 months ago
In other words, it's complicated. *sigh*
Grungepuppy 99
Grungepuppy 99 2 months ago
I can never forgive you for the cat joke
Seniorfungi 2 months ago
Not one Word about the German Stellarator Testreactor Wendelstein 7-X? Sad.
brayden 2 months ago
Seniorfungi lol ok nerd
ุ ุ
ุ ุ 2 months ago
Humanity won't be here for longer to succeed in fusion because of Alzheimer, Parkinson, Cancers, Heart diseases and immense amounts of self-righteousness and ignorance. Good luck.
Life Is Short
Life Is Short 2 months ago
Maybe we won’t need fusion if this new engine the Wall Street journal just reported on, that’s run by magnets, turns out to work. Not perpetual motion. But close!
ginger nut
ginger nut 2 months ago
Litteraly every video about fusion: "Fusion will probabily be good but we haven't invented yet"
Jan Sitkowski
Jan Sitkowski 2 months ago
We already have invented it actualy. We just have problems containing it in such a way that would make the energy production safe.
FGV Cosmic
FGV Cosmic 2 months ago
Not really “probably”. If we can get it to work, it WILL be good.
ken smith
ken smith 2 months ago
wouldnt that just make life on earth alot simper and cleaner
ken smith
ken smith 2 months ago
ken smith
ken smith 2 months ago
you what amazing most people see this video and scifi doesnt seem as many people working on it as should be and alot of igornce on the subject about it by the genral public thank heluim topamak fusion? saw a doumentry on it seemed more efficent as they where able to start at lower working temp.....
Travis Smith
Travis Smith 3 months ago
Would it not make more sense to redesign a fission reactor that would. 1. Burn its own waste as fuel and reduce or completely eliminate waste. 2. Be designed in a way that a meltdown is impossible. 3. Be designed to NOT produce nuclear weapon materials. I know we can do these things for sure.
rationalmartian 2 months ago
You DO??? That is remarkable. Pity you eschewed the option of educating us all in respect to how they are actually achievable in reality. I'm sure I won't be on my own in being intrigued to understand how these can be done. Number one especially. You are aware that a Fission rector doesn't actually burn fuel, as such? It is not a chemical combustion process. It is an indirect nuclear process. As the the massive nucleus of such heavy elements is unstable, due to the sheer size. The string nuclear force holding the nucleus together is very strong, but acts over a short distance, as the nucleus of an atom increases in size the outer protons and neutrons are held less securely making them much more likely to split and turn into different elements. There is however a mismatch in the masses of the two products left over and the original mass. This small amount of mass is liberated as energy. As in Einstein's famous equation. This is where the energy comes from in a fission reactor.
radzewicz 3 months ago
Nonsense. Fusion, if it ever is somehow made to work, produces radioactive by-products such as radioactive tritium. You still are left with a huge radioactive disposal problem. This business about "no radioactive disposal" is total nonsense. But after almost 100 years of working on it, we are still no closer to making it work, and we probably never will get it to work. Consider that the sun, halfway to the core, only produces about 270 watts per cubic meter, a very pathetic power output, and that's with half of the mass of the sun driving it. I don't think controlled fusion will ever work.
radzewicz 2 months ago
It most definitely is! Listen to the video dumbass, even he says so towards the end of the video, if you bothered to listen: usvid.net/video/video-riOvBEEs9WY.html You mouth the same crap that idiots used to mouth about breeder reactors, lol. Additionally radiation contamination from the by-products of fusion will also be a disposal and environmental problem. Fusion, if it ever does manage to work (and after almost 100 years no one has gotten it to work!), will have its own disposal and contamination problems, plus probably a few others that no one has thought of yet. There is no such thing as "perfect" and there are no free lunches dumbass.
Zane Shute
Zane Shute 3 months ago
It is most definitely not a "huge radioactive disposal problem." Tritium is not especially radioactive and quite small amounts of it would be used in fusion reactors equating to insignificant radiation release.
SteveVi0lence 3 months ago
All I need are the six infinity stones
Alex Mitchell
Alex Mitchell 3 months ago
That's a pretty shallow analysis of wind, solar and nuclear fission. Fusion is a pipe dream.
I C 3 months ago
Pretty sure AOC would want fusion banned. She already wanted fission banned from green new deal
Brett Mccluske
Brett Mccluske 3 months ago
The cosmic synthesys and rarety of lithium byrilium and boron.
Ivica Koren
Ivica Koren 3 months ago
2035??? Hire chinese
Matthew Dick
Matthew Dick 3 months ago
Short answer; the worst way to try fusion (Tokamak) gets almost all the money and the more promising ways to do it get peanuts
Next videos
Why Avocados Shouldn't Exist
Are We Inherently Good?
On the Origin of Butts
My Gangsta Relatives
Views 1 952 218