Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by janrinok on Saturday December 03, @01:03AM   Printer-friendly

Fusion power is 'approaching' reality thanks to a magnetic field breakthrough:

Fusion power may be a more realistic prospect than you think. As Motherboard reports, researchers at the Energy Department's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have discovered that a new magnetic field setup more than tripled the energy output of the fusion reaction hotspot in experiments, "approaching" the level required for self-sustaining ignition in plasmas. The field was particularly effective at trapping heat within the hotspot, boosting the energy yield.

The hotspot's creation involved blasting 200 lasers at a fusion fuel pellet made from hydrogen isotopes like deuterium and tritium. The resulting X-rays made the pellet implode and thus produce the extremely high pressures and heat needed for fusion. The team achieved their feat by wrapping a coil around a pellet made using special metals.

The notion of using magnets to heat the fuel isn't new. University of Rochester scientists found they could use magnetism to their advantage in 2012. The Lawrence Livermore study was far more effective, however, producing 40 percent heat and more than three times the energy.

Practical fusion reactors are still many years away. The output is still far less than the energy required to create self-sustaining reactions. The finding makes ignition considerably more achievable, though, and that in turn improves the chances of an energy-positive fusion system. This also isn't the end of the magnetism experiments. A future test will use an ice-laden cryogenic capsule to help understand fusion physics. Even if ignition is still distant, the learnings from this study could provide a clearer path to that breakthrough moment.


Original Submission

This discussion was created by janrinok (52) for logged-in users only, but now has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
(1)
  • (Score: 5, Funny) by istartedi on Saturday December 03, @01:58AM

    by istartedi (123) on Saturday December 03, @01:58AM (#1280976) Journal

    The inverse of x is approaching zero thanks to a mathematical breakthrough: We doubled x!

  • (Score: 3, Touché) by Snotnose on Saturday December 03, @06:07AM (1 child)

    by Snotnose (1623) on Saturday December 03, @06:07AM (#1280992)

    of anything in the past 50 years or so. For all my life (I'm retired) fusion power has been about 10 years away.

    --
    Why is tamales pronounced tamales but females is pronounced females instead of females?
    • (Score: 5, Touché) by maxwell demon on Saturday December 03, @09:41AM

      by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 03, @09:41AM (#1281001) Journal

      I don't remember a time when is was 10 years away. It was always either 20 or 30 years.

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 03, @07:08AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 03, @07:08AM (#1280996)

    Practical fusion reactors comment counts are still many years away.

    • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Saturday December 03, @01:11PM

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 03, @01:11PM (#1281010) Journal

      It has been noted :-). NC has a real life too and at the moment is not available. There are several bugs that have been discovered. If you find any more please log them on IRC #buglist.

  • (Score: 2) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Saturday December 03, @08:38AM (3 children)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Saturday December 03, @08:38AM (#1281000)

    Commercially viable fusion power is only 30 years away?

    It's been 30 years away for the past 50 years.

    • (Score: 5, Funny) by maxwell demon on Saturday December 03, @09:43AM

      by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 03, @09:43AM (#1281002) Journal

      You know, at those high energies there's a substantial time dilation. Those 30 years aren't Earth time.

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 03, @01:36PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 03, @01:36PM (#1281012)

      And while you just make the same stupid joke, they are actually working on the problem. At least you're keeping the toilets clean, I guess.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Gaaark on Saturday December 03, @04:10PM

      by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 03, @04:10PM (#1281019) Journal

      Fusion be a woman, tonight.

      Fusion has never seen more than 30 years in their entire 50 years of life.

      --
      --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
  • (Score: 2) by turgid on Saturday December 03, @04:53PM (1 child)

    by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 03, @04:53PM (#1281027) Journal

    Do they need to be self-sustaining? If you can cause fusion with pulses of laser light, and the fusion produces more energy that you put in, and if you can convert (some of ) that energy back into electricity, at some point you could get enough to power the lasers and have some left over as "profit" which you export for sale.

    • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Saturday December 03, @09:49PM

      by deimtee (3272) on Saturday December 03, @09:49PM (#1281056) Journal

      Pretty sure the "self-sustaining" is marketing. The researchers are aiming at exactly what you say, a repeating small explosion from which they can harvest more energy than they put in. This "breakthrough" is interesting in that it confined the plasma for longer and tripled the energy production. It's still thirty years from net energy production, but it's now a slightly smaller thirty years.

      --
      No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
(1)