Nuclear fission reactors are getting smaller. There is talk about small modular reactors, nuclear boilers heating remote villages, small nuclear reactors powering ships and submarines — will the development of fusion reactors take a similar direction? Will we eventually have a fusion reactor in a car or wristwatch?
So far, the trend is exactly the opposite, and the new fusion reactors are getting bigger and bigger. It turns out that a larger volume of plasma provides it with better stability and better parameters, thanks to which the fusion reaction can be better achieved. The largest tokamak, ITER, currently under construction, is supposed to have a plasma volume of 840 m3, and it is assumed that the first fusion power plant should have an even larger plasma volume of around 2,000 m3. In addition, it is not just about the volume of plasma itself, surrounding equipment is also needed to ignite the fusion. For example, coils generating a magnetic field, additional heating of the plasma such as Neutral Beam Injection or cooling towers. All this requires a really big building or rather buildings, so in the near future fusion power plants will take up the same amount of space as, for example, nuclear power plants. However, development and research will not stop and it is therefore not only possible but also likely, that small modular fusion power plants will eventually be developed. In order to have a fusion drive in a car or even in a wristwatch, a new principle of fusion will have to be discovered which we do not know yet because current magnetic or inertial confinement technologies do not allow such miniaturization.
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