Posted on: 16th October 2012
JET and ITER are experiments which are not designed to produced large scale power output for the grid. Construction will probably commence on the first fusion power plants during the 2030s, hence we can only show a schematic here.
At the left hand side two small reservoirs feed the two fuels, deuterium and tritium into the torus. In the torus itself the fuels are heated until they become plasma, as shown by the pink colour. Around this plasma is a blanket which catches the neutrons and absorbs their energy. The energy is used to heat water (or other coolant) which flows through the blanket.
Downstream of the blanket the power generation is identical to conventional power plants, such as coal or nuclear fission. The heated water is used to turn a turbine, which generates electricity for the grid.