Nuclear fusion offers enormous energy potential and does not pollute radioactive. A team of researchers from the University of New South Wales, Australia, says it has everything it takes to build a nuclear fusion reactor that will be able to produce more energy than it consumes.
The reactor will work differently from the other fusion reactors designed and promises a real energy revolution, according to Live Science. The secret of this hydrogen-boron spherical reactor is that it will work on the basis of completely different chemical elements from the experimental reactors used in other nuclear fusion energy projects.
The advantages of the nuclear fusion process, the same process that unfolds naturally within the Sun, is due to the fact that it offers enormous energy potential and does not pollute radioactive matter.
How does nuclear fusion work?
There is a lot of energy inside the atoms that is related to the physical forces that keep the atoms together (hard, weak and electromagnetic force).
For a century now, physicists have understood that they can access some of this energy by breaking atomic nuclear bonds.
The energy potential of this nuclear fission reaction has been used to destroy the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and end World War II in order to maintain the balance of power during the Cold War and to obtain electricity in nuclear power plants.
The opposite reaction of the fission reaction is the fusion reaction, and it is even stronger. If fission reactors are fragmented with atoms of very heavy elements (uranium or plutonium), fusion reactors get energy from the combination of atoms of very light elements – usually they are hydrogen isotopes, such as deuterium or tritium, which have more neutrons than hydrogen atoms. These atoms fuse to form helium, a process in which enormous amounts of energy are released.
For now, there is no economically viable nuclear fusion reactor. All the models built up to date consume more energy to support in the magnetic field the superheated plasma required for fusion reactions than they produce in the form of electricity.
However, the stakes are huge. The construction of an efficient fusion reactor would mean an infinite energy source and would radically transform the economy. Hydrogen used as the raw material in the fusion process is the most widespread chemical element on Earth and everywhere in the Universe.
In a new study featuring the hydrogen-fusion reactor, Professor Heinrich Hora, project coordinator at the University of New South Wales, says he can eliminate all the shortcomings of the fusion reactors. In the reactor proposed by Professor Hora, plasma energy can be transformed directly into electricity. This process comes with a maximum yield.
Unlike deuterium-tritium fusion reactors that maintain steady superheat plasma in a very strong magnetic field in the form of a donut, the hydrogen-boron reactor is spherical and uses lasers to trigger and to support the fusion reaction. These lasers can heat up the hydrogen-boron plasma to temperatures in the order of 3 billion degrees Celsius, bringing it to densities more than 100,000 times greater than those achieved by the plasma of a deuterium-tritium reactor.
In addition, the sphericity of this reactor will allow superheat plasma to maintain its cylindrical shape on the inside, a more efficient form, which becomes an ideal target for used cylindrical laser systems. The spherical shape also has the advantage of keeping the energy produced by the fusion reactions more efficient.
For the time being, these data are purely theoretical, obtained by computerized simulations, but they are optimistic enough to start working on the construction of a hydrogen-bor fusion reactor prototype. Perhaps, not a long time from now, the problem of an unlimited source of clean energy will be definitively solved.