Curious

Physicists Test a Strange Nuclear Sphere That Could Revolutionise Fusion Energy

It is already established that the key to unlocking clean and limitless energy on our planet is nuclear fusion.

How to harness the fusion reaction in a way that will somehow produce more energy than it consumes is actually one of the biggest challenge. A paper that was recently published actually claims to have found a way to do that.

A team of researchers experimentally tested some novel reactor types, instead of looking how to optimize fusion reactor designs and they have found out that a strange-looking sphere design could crucial for achieving net-positive nuclear fusion.

Aside from its shape, the main difference is that nuclear sphere would actually fuse hydrogen and baron, rather than hydrogen isotopes like deuterium and tritium. It is also using lasers in order to heat the core up to 200 times hotter than the very centre of the Sun.

If the crew’s calculations are accurate, it seems like this kind of hydrogen-baron reactor device would be ready to produce net-positive energy a lot faster from any of the reactors that were tested so far.

The lead researcher Heinrich Hora, said: “It is a most exciting thing to see these reactions confirmed in recent experiments and simulations.”

“I think this puts our approach ahead of all other fusion energy technologies.”

How this actually works

All the fusion reactors are taking the opposite approach to the nuclear fission reactions we are relying on for all the nuclear power we have today: instead of atoms being split, they are in fact fused, or combined, together.

The truth is that even despite all the advances, we are not really close to creating a net-positive nuclear fusion. In other words – it is not possible only because these machines are actually using a lot of energy just to generate plasma.

For many years, the lead researcher Nora and her crew has been working on some alternative designs and they tested them through simulations.

Their hydrogen-boron reactor is working by triggering a so-called “avalanche” fusion reaction from a laser beam that is producing quadrillion watts of power in only a trillionth of a second.

Here’s how it looks like:

The best news are that If future research doesn’t reveal any major engineering hurdles to this approach – the researchers said that a prototype reactor can be built in less than 10 years.

If this type of new amazing technique can somehow start working, the benefits would be very huge.

The managing director of the HB 11 – Warren McKenzie, said: “The fuels and waste are safe, the reactor won’t need a heat exchanger and steam turbine generator, and the lasers we need can be bought off the shelf.”

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