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Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a tabletop accelerator that produces nuclear fusion at room temperature, providing confirmation of an earlier experiment conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), while offering substantial improvements over the original design.
The device, which uses two opposing crystals to generate a powerful electric field, could potentially lead to a portable, battery-operated neutron generator for a variety of applications, from non-destructive testing to detecting explosives and scanning luggage at airports. The new results are described in the Feb. 10 issue of Physical Review Letters.
"Our study shows that 'crystal fusion' is a mature technology with considerable commercial potential," says Yaron Danon, associate professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering at Rensselaer. "This new device is simpler and less expensive than the previous version, and it has the potential to produce even more neutrons."
[url=http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-02/rpi-cf021306.php]Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute [/url
Call me when they reach the break even point then I'll get excited.
Originally posted by sardion2000
'Tis a neutron source powered by a battery nothing more. Call me when they reach the break even point then I'll get excited.
Fusion power is useful energy generated by nuclear fusion reactions. In this kind of reaction two light atomic nuclei fuse together to form a heavier nucleus and release energy. The largest current experiment, JET, has resulted in fusion power production somewhat larger than the power put into the plasma, maintained for a few seconds. In June 2005, the construction of the experimental reactor ITER, designed to produce several times more fusion power than the power into the plasma over many minutes, was announced. The production of net electrical power from fusion is planned for the next generation experiment after ITER.
"Nuclear fusion has been explored as a potential source of power, but we are not looking at this as an energy source right now," Danon says. Rather, the most immediate application may come in the form of a battery-operated, portable neutron generator. Such a device could be used to detect explosives or to scan luggage at airports, and it could also be an important tool for a wide range of laboratory experiments.
Originally posted by ArchAngel
The largest current experiment, JET, has resulted in fusion power production somewhat larger than the power put into the plasma, maintained for a few seconds.