'By 2070 we'll hopefully have built many nuclear fusion reactors'

July 22, 2021

In the latest episode of the Dutch TU/e podcast Sound of Science, presenter Lieven Scheire talks to Ralf Mackenbach. He became famous as a singer and now works as a physicist on the nuclear fusion reactor of the future.

He once broke through to the general public by winning the Junior Song Festival with his song 'Click-Clack'. Ralf Mackenbach, however, made the switch to physics and is now fully dedicated to the design of a nuclear fusion reactor. What do you need to make energy on earth from something that is ten times hotter than the center of the sun? A conversation about beads on a chain, fat doughnuts and ink drops in water. 

'Nuclear fusion will be a possibility in 20 years, and it always will be.' This adage, familiar in physics, draws the promise - and enormous challenge - that nuclear fusion has been for years. Ralf Mackenbach is optimistic, however: "I think science will make enough leaps and bounds so that in about 50 years we will be able to build properly functioning fusion power plants." 

Enthusiasm and examples

Currently, Mackenbach is working to improve the design of one of the types of reactors now being experimented with in nuclear fusion: the stellarator. His goal, simply put, is to ensure that there is no turbulence in the red-hot plasma. His supervisor is Josefine Proll

In this episode of our Sound of Science science podcast, the PhD student explains the immense demands on a nuclear fusion reactor if you want to use it to conquer plasma of 150 million degrees Celsius. With his enthusiasm and imaginative examples, you will undoubtedly be fascinated by the unprecedented challenge of nuclear fusion in this talk.  

You can listen to the conversation with Ralf Mackenbach in the player below. Or go to your favorite podcast platform and search for 'Sound of Science'. Subscribe to the channel to be automatically notified of new episodes!


Barry van der Meer
(Head of Department)

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