I understand that here on earth we create fusion at temperatures that are much hotter then our sun. What I want to know is how we contain those high temperatures safely. Also if any one can give an estimation on when we will have practical nuclear energy available to the everyday person that would be great.
This describes the international collaboration that is building a production level fusion machine, ITER, a prototype .
The tokamak is an experimental machine designed to harness the energy of fusion. Inside a tokamak, the energy produced through the fusion of atoms is absorbed as heat in the walls of the vessel. Just like a conventional power plant, a fusion power plant will use this heat to produce steam and then electricity by way of turbines and generators.
The heart of a tokamak is its doughnut-shaped vacuum chamber. Inside, under the influence of extreme heat and pressure, gaseous hydrogen fuel becomes a plasma—the very environment in which hydrogen atoms can be brought to fuse and yield energy. (You can read more on this particular state of matter here.) The charged particles of the plasma can be shaped and controlled by the massive magnetic coils placed around the vessel; physicists use this important property to confine the hot plasma away from the vessel walls. The term "tokamak" comes to us from a Russian acronym that stands for "toroidal chamber with magnetic coils."
So the plasma is controlled by magnetic fields , and the tokamak design is successful in this.
Also if any one can give an estimation on when we will have practical nuclear energy available to the everyday person that would be great.
It is worth reading the link:
ITER's First Plasma is scheduled for December 2025.
Then one will experiment with demonstrating that it really produces the planned energy, 500MegaWatt over the energy needed to run the experiment.
After a successful demonstration the countries participating will start building the industrial machines as they will share the knowhow.
Another 10 years? The finish line moves over the years I have been following fusion's progress.
Plasmas in a fusion reactor at such temperatures cannot touch any material. No wall or floor or ceiling. It has to be kept suspended, levitating. This is done with magnetic forces by electromagnets that are continuously adjusted during operation. If you Google for pictures, you'll find the inside of such chamber covered in shiny metallic plates, which are there to protect the vacuum vessel and the magnetic coils. The adjustments are highly automatic and highly advanced to do.
According to a university professor some years ago, fusion energy will become available for real in 50 years or so... Maybe some breakthroughs will happen before that, who knows.