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Nuclear Fusion, The Regular Kind?
#1
This is not cold fusion, but rather something on the traditional side of things.

The lasers fuelling hopes of unlimited, clean nuclear energy

Quote:A milestone has been reached in the 60-year struggle to harness the nuclear reactions that power the Sun in an experiment that could lead to a way of producing an unlimited source of clean and sustainable energy in the form of nuclear fusion.

Scientists in California said on Wednesday night that they have for the first time managed to release more energy from their nuclear fusion experiment than they put into it, which marks a critical threshold in eventually achieving the goal of a self-sustaining nuclear-fusion reaction.

Nuclear fusion uses a fuel source derived from water and produces none of the more dangerous and long-lasting isotopes, such as enriched uranium and plutonium, that result from conventional nuclear power plants, which rely on the fission or splitting of atoms rather than their fusion.

Researchers involved in the Nuclear Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory said that they have used 192 laser beams to compress a tiny fuel pellet less than half the diameter of a human hair in such a way that it triggered the net release of energy by nuclear fusion.

The fuel, composed of the two hydrogen isotopes tritium and deuterium derived from water, was compressed together under enormous pressures and temperatures for less than a billionth of a second, but this was enough to see more energy coming out of the experiment than went into it.

“We are fusing deuterium and tritium, which are isotopes of water, in a way that gets them to run together at high enough speed to overcome their natural electrical repulsion to each other,” said Omar Hurricane of the Livermore laboratory.

“We are finally, by harnessing these reactions, getting more energy out of these reactions than we are putting into the deuterium-tritium fuel... We took a step back from what we tried before and in the process took a leap forward,” said Dr Hurricane, who led the NIF study published in the journal Nature.

There are currently two parallel approaches to nuclear fusion. One uses laser energy to compress fuel pellets -- like the NIF experiment -- and aims to keep the fuel in place by a process known as inertial confinement.

The other approach is to build a complex magnetic “bottle” to hold the hot, electrically charged plasma of the fuel in place. This magnetic confinement is the strategy of the Joint European Torus (JET) experiment in Culham, Oxfordshire, and the international ITER nuclear fusion plant under construction at Cadarache in southern France.

Both approaches aim to gain more energy than is put into the system, and ultimately to a critical stage called “ignition” when the reaction becomes self-sustaining, which would mean that fusion could be exploited practically in power plants as an unlimited source of clean energy.

The breakthrough at NIF was made possible by altering the laser pulses focusing on the fuel pellet in such a way that it led to the even compression of the capsule holding the deuterium and tritium, said Debbie Callahan, one of the researchers involved.

“We had to compress the capsule by 35 times. This is like saying that if you started with a basketball it would be like compressing it down to the size of a pea, but keeping the perfect spherical shape, which is very challenging,” Dr Callahan said.

Professor Steve Cowley, director of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, said that the two approaches to nuclear fusion are beginning to make significant headway after decades of painstakingly slow research.

I find this idea of 'inertial confinement' to be quite Intriguing, to say the least.
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#2
As another article on this event stated, "light years away". I strongly doubt that any member of this forum will live long enough to know if this is even feasible.

And I hope I don't upset anyone by suggesting that this is one area that should not receive any taxpayer assistance.... very questionable, very costly.
Sodomia Delenda Est

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#3
Most current SF authors use fusion reactors in mag bottles. This laser concept is closer to practical.

If it creates more energy than is used in the process, then it is already successful. Only trick left is to siphon off the excess energy and cycle the rest back to make more. It sounds like they only have a one-time trick so far. Simple solution is just to jumper the energy back to the lasers and replace the target. The limitation wouldn't be the energy transfer - that should propagate at the speed of light; but the speed at which a target can be repositioned. My bet is a cascade effect where multiple targets are hit one after another, so quickly that it appears seamless.
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#4
Quote:

The world's most powerful laser system at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore Labs can deliver more than 500 trillion watts (terawatts or TW) of peak power and 1.85 megajoules (MJ) of ultraviolet laser light to its target. In context, 500 terawatts is 1,000 times more power than the United States uses at any instant in time, and 1.85 megajoules of energy is about 100 times what any other laser regularly produces today.The shot validated NIF's most challenging laser performance specifications set in the late 1990s when scientists were planning the world's most energetic laser facility. Combining extreme levels of energy and peak power on a target in the NIF is a critical requirement for achieving one of physics' grand challenges -- igniting hydrogen fusion fuel in the laboratory and producing more energy than that supplied to the target.The first step in achieving an experimental fusion reaction is to induce inertial confinement of a mixture of Deuterium and Tritium (isotopes of hydrogen) at high enough densities so that their is a self-sustaining reaction. such a reaction requires a large cross-section of individual nuclei which can only occur in a high density plasma. Various methods of achieving this have included using the Z-Pinch Process to create high energy X-rays to induce the confinement in fuel pellets,a so-called Z-Machine. Another fusion method involves using a uniform plasma confined in a collapsing magnetic field, called a Tokamak or a Toroidal Nuclear Fusion Reactor. A lot of experimental results have come from using high energy laser facilities such as The National Ignition Facility, not only for fusion physics but also in the test of nuclear weapons eliminating the need for ground or sea tests of thermonuclear weapons; all the tests can be done in a laser ignition facility creating minimum effects to the environment.For commercial Nuclear Fusion, the Tokamak Design is the best design for achieving a self-sustaining fusion reaction by having the toroidal field create a "bottle" of fusion plasma. Such a reactor would have to be very large to achieve critical mass for self-sustaining fusion and by far the International Experimental Reactor (ITER) in France is the best facility for testing the viability of an energy generating reactor.Extracting the energy from the reaction is a different matter and probably will involve the invention of a high temperature superconducting heat exchanger or confined superfluid technology to become an efficient source of power. So far the best method of heat extraction from a proposed Nuclear Fusion Reactor Core would be an oxide alloy of a metal with a high cross-section for gamma rays and a high melting point for absorbed infrared; hence an alloy of Tungsten dipped into the fusion reactor plasma is the best form of fusion heat exchanger available with current technology.The exploration of other fusion reactions which utilise fuels easier to access is also another major problem in developing an efficient fusion reaction, reactions with Helium-3 and even a man-made Carbon-Nitrogen-Oxygen, CNO, cycle have been proposed. Even the use of low-energy muons to catalyse the reaction have been proposed, though will be probably a long way off until an cost-efficient muon generator is developed. In this historic test, the NIF's lasers fired within a few trillionths of a second of each other onto a 2-millimeter-diameter target. The total energy matched the amount requested by shot managers to within better than 1 percent.The interesting thing about laser fusion is that, if you make the laser pulses short enough - on the order of a few hundred attoseconds say, you could in principle make a laser that would skip electronic transitions and just manipulate the nuclei of the atoms. This would mean there would be no blast from the laser itself, just from the nuclear reactions. This would give the highest efficiency possible of inducing fusion and the highest level of control, since all of the radiation emitted would be from the laser pulse.1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was warded for using femtosecond lasers to observe and control chemical reactions of individual molecules. Imagine what progress could be done using even shorter laser pulses to control the nuclear reactions. In the future it may even be possible to perform subatomic physics with lasers and go beyond the Schwinger Limit and create any high energy particle we want from the vacuum. This would replace large accelerators for particle physics and could allow mass production of some unstable particles for scientific use.
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#5
It's actually getting a trickle of funding ... $100 Million!! Gosh, what is that? Maybe 1/5th to 1/8th of a Solyndra? Thankfully, hard as he has tried, this isn't something Obama can wreck with an executive order ... seems he was just showing off to Hollande ... if he actually could do "whatever he wants" all that cash would be going to GE's windmill division. Suck it Immelt!! The French have mastered the real key to nuclear technology ... the marketing part (their public accepts the fact that they get 80% of their electricity from 'clean' [they flush the toxic crap out into the bottom of the North Atlantic] nuclear power). We need their help ... desperately!!
"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard."
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#6
A couple of cool pix of the "Bootstrapping" process ...
"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard."
-- Henry Mencken
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#7
Lockheed says makes breakthrough on fusion energy project
Is this serious or yet another payer to the God of Technology for a long hoped but never coming change in energy production?

The problem when we read such article is that we never ever read of it anymore. Ten years later we are still with the same technology as 70 years ago.
It would be nice for once, not to read about possible breakrthrough in laboratories but of real things being installed and used on a large scale.

One good note: I'm glad lockheed is working on peaceful project instead of means of bombing far away nations.
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#8
http://www.businessinsider.com/scientist...on-2014-10
Sodomia Delenda Est

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#9
That's what this is all about, MM gaining access to billions of taxpayer dollars.

Light years away = this is a blatant pr attempt at more pay to play American governance. Solyndra X 1 million until reality sits in again.

MM leaders can check the Gallup poll right before the next election and start sending cash to who they need to. When you have billions to throw around, this game isn't even difficult to play.

You can fund and fix ozone hole problems like DuPont did.
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#10
I'd give your hypothesis only 99% chance of being right .... S6
Sodomia Delenda Est

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#11
(10-16-2014, 03:46 PM)mv Wrote: I'd give your hypothesis only 99% chance of being right .... S6

I've already forgotten. What Was that hypothesis of yours? Something based on the square root of Sodomia, or something like that? Spiteful
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#12
Scientists in the field agree it's unlikely to be a break through. What else is new in the USA? It's a pr breakthrough most likely for tax payer access.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/scientists...18813.html
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#13
One more bit of caution, lest things get a bit too excited.
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