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One Step Closer To Fusion Energy

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posted on Mar, 11 2007 @ 07:45 PM
One of the reasons that fusion energy hasn't worked productively yet is due to "too much energy lost to reach the high temperatures needed for fusion."

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has produced a "stellerator" that losses less energy, thereby opening the possibility that fusion energy may be possible!

A Step Toward Fusion Energy

The research team, headed by electrical and computer engineering Professor David Anderson and research assistant John Canik, recently proved that the Helically Symmetric eXperiment (HSX), an odd-looking magnetic plasma chamber called a stellarator, can overcome a major barrier in plasma research, in which stellarators lose too much energy to reach the high temperatures needed for fusion.

Published in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters, the new results show that the unique design of the HSX in fact loses less energy, meaning that fusion in this type of stellarator could be possible.

Plasma is very hot, ionized gas that can conduct electricity - essentially, it's what stars are made of. If heated to the point of ignition, hydrogen ions could fuse into helium, the same reaction that powers the sun. This fusion could be a clean, sustainable and limitless energy source.
These results excited and relieved the researchers who have spent years working on the project. "We all thought the machine would do what it's turning out to do, but there are a million reasons why it might not: the theory might be wrong, (or) we might have built it badly," says Anderson. "But everything is panning out and supporting the fact that the ideas on which it was based were correct, and really points the way of the future for the stellarator."

The next step for the project is to establish how much symmetry in the coils is necessary to achieve low transport rates. They hope to make the coils easier to engineer, with the mindset that the principles used in the HSX could someday be incorporated into fusion generators, the reason that Anderson and his team began designing the HSX 17 years ago.

"It's an exciting field. It's something where one can contribute positively to mankind with an energy source that's completely sustainable, doesn't involve nuclear proliferation or radioactive waste, with a limitless fuel supply," says Anderson. "Plus, the machines look cool."

One step closer at least, if more money was allocated for this kind of research, we might have had fusion generators working right now.

[edit on 11/3/07 by Keyhole]

posted on Apr, 7 2007 @ 06:16 PM
Everything humankind has done has had a steep learning curve.

Just 65 years ago, the first nuclear reactor was invented at the University of Chicago, but there were 2 centuries of discoveries that had to take place before that could transpire.

If fusion is delayed it may not have anything to do with money allocated in the here and now, but it may have something to do with time allocated for humans that have the mental ability to decipher the puzzle that sustained fusion reaction represents. There are so few people of this caliber and they are being used to do research at universities that gain these universities $millions for their labs. Where is the time to delve into the secrets of the universe, as once was available to these prodigies and geniuses. All their time is being used. They should be allowed to further their thoughts with only minor distractions, and maybe we might see a crack start to form in the wall.

[edit on 4/7/2007 by bodebliss]

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