Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Long-Awaited Future of Fusion May Have Gotten a Little Bit Closer

At least that's what scientists at the University of Gothenburg may have determined. Science Daily has the story:

Ultra-dense deuterium is a million times more dense than frozen deuterium, making it relatively easy to create a nuclear fusion reaction using high-power pulses of laser light.

“If we can produce large quantities of ultra-dense deuterium, the fusion process may become the energy source of the future. And it may become available much earlier than we have thought possible”, says Leif Holmlid.

“Further, we believe that we can design the deuterium fusion such that it produces only helium and hydrogen as its products, both of which are completely non-hazardous. It will not be necessary to deal with the highly radioactive tritium that is planned for use in other types of future fusion reactors, and this means that laser-driven nuclear fusion as we envisage it will be both more sustainable and less damaging to the environment than other methods that are being developed.”
And how far are they in their discovery?
So far, only microscopic amounts of the new material have been produced. New measurements that have been published in two scientific journals, however, have shown that the distance between atoms in the material is much smaller than in normal matter. Leif Holmlid, Professor in the Department of Chemistry, believes that this is an important step on the road to commercial use of the material.

The material is produced from heavy hydrogen, also known as deuterium, and is therefore known as “ultra-dense deuterium”. It is believed that ultra-dense deuterium plays a role in the formation of stars, and that it is probably present in giant planets such as Jupiter.
Hope to see it work in our lifetime! Hat tip to JM.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

When I first began researching nuclear power, over 30 years ago, fusion advocates said commercial fusion power was about 30 years away.

Today, fusion advocates say commercial fusion power is about 30 years away.

It's always N+30. Yet every time a fusion researcher puts out a breathless press release to get more grant funding, the media jumps all over it like we've landed on the moon.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know the relative expenditures on fission research, a proven value, v fusion, a proven waste of money so far.