Creeping ever closer.
16 DEC 2017
Achieving nuclear fusion without needing radioactive fuel or producing radioactive waste is now “within reach” thanks to a new laser-driven technique, according to researchers.
The type of fusion we’re talking about is hydrogen-boron fusion, which produces no neutrons and therefore no radioactivity in its primary reaction.
The downside, and part of what’s made it out of reach for scientists so far, is that it needs temperatures 200 times hotter than the core of the Sun to work properly.
Now an international team of scientists has come up with a method for using super-strength laser bursts to generate those kind of temperatures, compressing the hydrogen and boron nuclei together. We’re still a long way off a reactor, but we’re getting closer.
“It is a most exciting thing to see these reactions confirmed in recent experiments and simulations,” says lead researcher Heinrich Hora, from the University of New South Wales in Australia.
“Not just because it proves some of my earlier theoretical work, but they have also measured the laser-initiated chain reaction to create one billion-fold higher energy output than predicted under thermal equilibrium conditions.”