For many years, the biggest stumbling block in creating a working fusion reactor has been the material it is to be made from. The ITER reactor built in France to test out the new ceramic torus has shown that even the best ceramics struggle to contain the heat of the high temperature plasma required to cause hydrogen to fuse and release energy in the same reaction that powers the sun.
Material scientists have been searching for an alternative.
The new material had to be flexible enough to be bent into the correct shape, strong enough to create the hollow doughnut without collapsing on itself, thin enough that it's weight was not a problem, and yet capable of withstanding the massive temperatures of the plasma beam and finally be non-magnetic.
It has taken six months, but Pierre Petters of the Parisian Institute of Solar Science has located the perfect material. And for a Frenchman, he located it in a most unlikely place: McDonald's.
"I was babysitting two American colleague's children," said Petters. "They did not like the sound of my usual lunch of escargo, after I explained what it was, so I took them to McDonald's. While they had the burgers, I went for salad and fruit, and this is when I made my most remarkable discovery."
Petters stumbled across the McDonald's Apple Pie.
"The wrapper did have the warning that the contents may be hot," Petters said. "I was unprepared for just how hot. It took three weeks for the skin on my tongue and mouth to regrow enough to tell colleagues of the remarkable stuff that wraps around the apple pie. Strong, light, non-magnetic and most importantly, it is completely unaffected by the massive temperatures. It is perfect."
ITER's new reactor will be made from McDonald's Apple Pies, and is expected to be up and running by September.