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A laser-driven technique for creating fusion that dispenses with the need for radioactive fuel elements and leaves no toxic radioactive waste is now within reach, say researchers.
Hydrogen-boron fusion produces no neutrons and, therefore, no radioactivity in its primary reaction. And unlike most other sources of power production -- like coal, gas and nuclear, which rely on heating liquids like water to drive turbines -- the energy generated by hydrogen-boron fusion converts directly into electricity. But the downside has always been that this needs much higher temperatures and densities -- almost 3 billion degrees Celsius, or 200 times hotter than the core of the Sun.
However, dramatic advances in laser technology are close to making the two-laser approach feasible, and a spate of recent experiments around the world indicate that an 'avalanche' fusion reaction could be triggered in the trillionth-of-a-second blast from a petawatt-scale laser pulse, whose fleeting bursts pack a quadrillion watts of power. If scientists could exploit this avalanche, Hora said, a breakthrough in proton-boron fusion was imminent.
"It is a most exciting thing to see these reactions confirmed in recent experiments and simulations," said Hora, an emeritus professor of theoretical physics at UNSW. "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."
Together with 10 colleagues in six nations -- including from Israel's Soreq Nuclear Research Centre and the University of California, Berkeley -- Hora describes a roadmap for the development of hydrogen-boron fusion based on his design, bringing together recent breakthroughs and detailing what further research is needed to make the reactor a reality.
By combining the two [low temperature superconductor and high temp SC], the team at MagLab were able to create a powerful superconducting magnet that overcomes the limitations of low-temperature materials.
32T [name of their new designed magnet] uses a conventional low-temperature superconductor, and a high-temperature superconductor called YBCO made of yttrium, barium, copper and oxygen, which has a critical temperature of about 93 Kelvin (-180 Celsius or -292 Fahrenheit - we told you it was relative).
The magnet took years to design, and the team developed new techniques for insulating, reinforcing, and de-energising the system. Now that they have those techniques, they can try to develop the magnet even further.
"We've opened up an enormous new realm," said Huub Weijers, who oversaw the magnet's construction.
"I don't know what that limit is, but it's beyond 100 tesla. The required materials exist. It's just technology and dollars that are between us and 100 tesla."
For decades, experiments showed that the confinement degraded when the rotation was reduced. When the [plasma] rotation [is] slowed, the plasma become more turbulent and energy leaked out faster. Scientists have discovered a new steady-state plasma operation regime at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility that suppresses turbulence via magnetic shear and does not rely on rotation.
In the new plasma operation regime, the beneficial effect of rotation shear is replaced by magnetic shear. Magnetic shear also opposes the formation of large turbulent eddies, which are a concern in fusion reactors. Maintaining a high degree of plasma confinement without plasma rotation could enable the economically attractive operation of a steady-state fusion reactor. The low transport achieved in these studies leads to very high levels of performance through a “transport barrier” in the plasma, approaching plasma parameters that would be required in fusion reactor power plants.
A collaboration of U.S.- and China-based magnetic fusion scientists is developing the physics basis for maintaining excellent energy confinement even in low-rotation plasmas where confinement normally suffers. In joint experiments on the DIII-D tokamak (San Diego, USA), scientists demonstrated an operating scenario known as “high poloidal beta (βP) scenario.” The scenario achieves improved energy confinement quality relative to standard H-mode (H98≥1.5) through the formation of an internal transport barrier at a large plasma radius. The confinement persists even at low plasma rotation. To achieve this result, the international team systematically analyzed the influence of toroidal rotation, plasma pressure, and current profile on turbulence suppression both in experiments and simulations.
Now, a team led by Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory has sharply improved the ability to control the vertical position. The result? The new control algorithm stabilizes the plasma position for record tall plasmas in KSTAR that exceed even the KSTAR design specifications.
originally posted by: TEOTWAWKIAIFF
a reply to: Phage
Until the proton-Boron reaction is perfected. Yes, heat water to turn a turbine. But we already have turbines... so just chuck out the coal and gas plants and save the planet!
originally posted by: TEOTWAWKIAIFF
I have link that is either the funniest thing or the neatest!
TheSpectrum.com - A Southern Utah scientist is studying potentially the most dense material in our solar system.
The claim is a fifth phase of hydrogen! And it is super dense (heavy). And he is using lasers. And he is the guy who invented Chums!
“The reason ITER is so large is that it is based on a 1997 design,” said Dinan. “Back then, without the supercomputing powers of today, size was the only way of countering the effect of turbulence in the plasma that would cause the fusion reactions to stop.
“Now, researchers have used modern supercomputer simulations to show that the key isn’t in fighting the hot plasma but learning to work with it.”
These computer simulations show that reactors on a much smaller scale are able to achieve commercial fusion power, opening up the potential for fusion technology in space travel and many other sectors once fusion technology becomes viable.
SPARC is an evolution of a tokamak design that has been studied and refined for decades. This included work at MIT that began in the 1970s, led by professors Bruno Coppi and Ron Parker, who developed the kind of high-magnetic-field fusion experiments that have been operated at MIT ever since, setting numerous fusion records.
“Our strategy is to use conservative physics, based on decades of work at MIT and elsewhere,” Greenwald says. “If SPARC does achieve its expected performance, my sense is that’s sort of a Kitty Hawk moment for fusion, by robustly demonstrating net power, in a device that scales to a real power plant.”
Commonwealth Fusion Systems. CFS will join with MIT to carry out rapid, staged research leading to a new generation of fusion experiments and power plants based on advances in high-temperature superconductors — work made possible by decades of federal government funding for basic research.
“By putting the magnet development up front,” says Whyte, the Hitachi America Professor of Engineering and head of MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, “we think that this gives you a really solid answer in three years, and gives you a great amount of confidence moving forward that you’re giving yourself the best possible chance of answering the key question, which is: Can you make net energy from a magnetically confined plasma?”
MILAN (Reuters) - Italian energy company Eni will conduct research with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and invest in a company created by former MIT scientists to produce energy from nuclear fusion.
Fusion "is a goal that we are increasingly determined to reach quickly," Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said in a statement.
Eni will support CFS to develop the first commercial power plant producing energy by fusion, a safe, sustainable, virtually inexhaustible source without any emission of pollutants and greenhouse gases," Eni said.
The Italian company will also carry out research with MIT on plasma physics, advanced fusion and electromagnetic technologies, it said.
originally posted by: Erno86
a reply to: TEOTWAWKIAIFF
The Applied Fusion Systems, say's that fusion plasma can't be 'weaponized'...but aside from thermonuclear fusion bombs, a magnetically contained fusion plasma reactor, should be able to shape a electrically charged fusion plasma bolt or stream towards an intended military target, with the use of a magnetic funnel, that guides the plasma towards the target; with obvious devastating results!
This changed the focus from a theoretical power plant size reactor to distributed, smaller, nuclear fusion reactors, SPARC (Small, Practical??, ARC).
Record-setting efficiency for generation of neutrons
March 14, 2018
Colorado State University
Nuclear fusion, the process that powers our sun, happens when nuclear reactions between light elements produce heavier ones. It's also happening -- at a smaller scale -- in a lab. Using a compact but powerful laser to heat arrays of ordered nanowires, scientists have demonstrated micro-scale nuclear fusion in the lab. They have achieved record-setting efficiency for the generation of neutrons - chargeless sub-atomic particles resulting from the fusion process.