13 December 2008

Focus on Fusion: Energy for the Long Run

The long shot solution for human energy/power needs is nuclear fusion. The same type of power that lights the sun and the stars has the potential to light the nighttime cities of Earth and power its industry, for the indefinite future. Brian Wang presents a useful update on Focus Fusion -- a clever, small-scale fusion approach from Lawrenceville Plasma Physics.
Focus Fusion operates using a dense plasma focus (DPF) with hydrogen-boron fuel. The fuel is in the form of decaborane (H14B10), a solid at room temperature which sublimates into a gas when heated to moderate temperatures of around 100 C. As in any fusion reaction, when the hydrogen nuclei (protons) and boron-11 nuclei collide at high enough velocities, a nuclear reaction occurs. In this case, three helium nuclei (also called alpha particles) are produced, which stream off in a concentrated beam, confined by powerful magnetic fields produced by the plasma itself. _LPP

Brian's report comes soon after a finding from MIT that high power radio waves have the potential to "focus" plasma in a fusion reactor, such as the ITER reactor.

M. Simon has an imbed video of the likely incoming US DOE Secretary, Steven Chu, discussing fusion -- including a brief mention of the Polywell Fusion approach.

Here is an interesting look at a hybrid "fission / fusion" reactor,which would help to deal with the problem of radioactive waste from the world's fission reactors.
Creating commercially useful power with fusion, in which small atoms are combined to produce energy, always seems to be decades away — and too costly. But physicists at the University of Texas at Austin have come up with a reactor design that would provide a second purpose for fusion: destroying long-lived nuclear waste arising from the splitting of atoms — or fission.
Both the Polywell Process and the Focus Fusion approach are considered dark horse candidates. But success in either camp would completely overturn our present conceptual views of world energy dynamics.

Low cost, lightweight, modular fusion power reactors would be ideal for remote and extreme environments on Earth, under the ocean, at the polar regions, and for outer space outposts on the lunar surface and beyond. Fuel for sustainable fusion can be found on Earth, on the moon, and throughout the solar system.

Taken from an article previously published at Al Fin Energy


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Blogger James W Makepeace said...

Here's a link to an interesting short film about fusion, concentrating on fast-ignition laser fusion and (to some extent) Tokamak fusion too.

Sunday, 14 December, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Thanks, James.

Sunday, 14 December, 2008  

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