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In experiments to date the energy input required to produce the temperatures and pressures that enable significant fusion reactions in hydrogen isotopes has far exceeded the fusion energy generated.

But through the use of promising fusion technologies such as magnetic confinement and laser-based inertial confinement, humanity is moving much closer to getting around that problem and achieving that breakthrough moment when the amount of energy coming out of a fusion reactor will sustainably exceed the amount going in, producing net energy.

To have any chance of economic operation that must repay capital and operational costs, the fusion power must be raised to thousands of megawatts so that the total parasitic power drain is relatively small.s fission reactors, including neutron radiation damage and radioactive waste, potential tritium release, the burden on coolant resources, outsized operating costs, and the increased risks of nuclear weapons proliferation.o produce usable heat, the neutron streams carrying 80 percent of the energy from deuterium-tritium fusion must be decelerated and cooled by the reactor structure, its surrounding lithium-containing blanket, and the coolant.

The neutron radiation damage in the solid vessel wall is expected to be worse than in fission reactors because of the higher neutron energies.

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If the fusion power is 300 megawatts, the entire electric output of 120 MWe barely supplies on-site needs.

As the fusion power is raised, the on-site consumption becomes an increasingly smaller proportion of the electric output, dropping to one-half when the fusion power is 830 megawatts.In inertial confinement, laser beams or ion beams are used to squeeze and heat the plasma.) The most well-known example of magnetic confinement fusion is the doughnut-shaped tokamak under construction at the ITER site; inertial confinement fusion is exemplified by the laser-induced microexplosions taking place at the US-based National Ignition Facility The deuterium-tritium reaction is favored by fusion developers because its reactivity is 20 times higher than a deuterium-deuterium fueled reaction, and the former reaction is strongest at one-third the temperature required for deuterium-only fusion.In fact, an approximately equal mixture of deuterium and tritium may be the only feasible fusion fuel for the foreseeable future.Some 75 to 100 Me (megawatts electric) are consumed continuously by liquid-helium refrigerators; water pumping; vacuum pumping; heating, ventilating and air conditioning for numerous buildings; tritium processing; and so forth, as exemplified by the facilities for the ITER fusion project in France The second category of parasitic drain is the power needed to control the fusion plasma in magnetic confinement fusion systems (and to ignite fuel capsules in pulsed inertial confinement fusion systems).Magnetic confinement fusion plasmas require injection of significant power in atomic beams or electromagnetic energy to stabilize the fusion burn, while additional power is consumed by magnetic coils helping to control location and stability of the reacting plasma.Fusion neutrons knock atoms out of their usual lattice positions, causing swelling and fracturing of the structure.