By Greg Argos

By Greg Argos

PRINCETON, Nj. (CBS) — It can heat plasma 4-5 times the temperature of the sun. Today, in Princeton, a new machine was unveiled, which could lead to safe, green and abundant energy.

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Through an underground tunnel at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, up a few flights of stairs, sits something called a spherical tokamak.

“The analogy that’s often made is it looks like an apple that’s been cored,” said Michael Zarnstorff.

That cored apple could one day lead to efficient and plentiful fusion energy. “It would provide energy for millions of years, for all of mankind,” he said.

Friday, the U.S. Energy Secretary toured the upgraded facility, marking the unveiling of the new fusion center stack which cost $94 million in federal funds and five years to improve.

“We spent the last four years upgrading it considerably to have twice the magnetic field, twice the amount of plasma current,” explained Zarnstorff. “Twice the heating power and five times the duration of the plasma.”

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Over the next year, Zarnstorff and his team of physicists and engineers will shoot beams of plasma into the devise, super heating it to 50 million degrees, some 5-10 times hotter than the sun.

“This is a physics experiment to understand how this hot plasma, this gray hot gas made of charged particles, interacts with a magnetic field and how we can confine it and hold it in this hot form for very long time periods,” he said.

Previous experiments have produces 11 megawatts of power, enough to power a small city, but the charged lasted for just one second. These new experiments will test whether power could last much longer at larger amounts.

“So we can ultimately use it to make energy in a clean way. The goal is to take that experience and make progress in the steps to make is practical and economic,” Zarnstorff said.

Fusion energy, powering our cities, experts say, is still decades away.

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