Sunday, October 05, 2008

HiPER Laser Fusion Project Starts

We have all heard the siren's call of Fusion Power. "Unlimited, Clean electrical energy". The problem with fusion is not that it can not be reached, because anyone with a little knowledge of history knows that fusion reaction has been achieved with spectacular effect. But controllable, clean fusion has a major drawback. It takes more energy to start and maintain than you can get out of the reaction. But that may be about to change. enter the $1.7-billion HiPER facility—High Power laser Energy Research. This facility's aim is to construct a fusion reactor that will utilize high powered lasers firing on a small sphere of deuterium and tritium with enough force to fuse the deuterium and tritium atoms together, producing harmless helium and vast amounts of energy. The method isn't new. However up to this point the major item lacking was a powerful enough laser that had a high enough firing rate to maintain the reaction. The National Ignition Facility in Livermore, California has a similar project due to start in 2009 but the lasers in use there use far more power than they can reap from the reaction. A separate approach at the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor in Cadarache, France, is aiming to use powerful magnetic fields to spark the reaction but this is again not thought to be terribly efficient. Researchers at the HiPER facility look to the NIF's efforts to be a jumping off point for their work. The NIF plant will be a proof of concept. But the major difference between the NIF's plant and HiPER is the NIF uses a single laser to do all the work. HiPER will use use 2 lasers in a two step process where they hope to break the efficiency boundry.

<- via Gizmodo ->


M. Simon said...

A little known fusion project with great prospects:

Fusion Report 29 August 2008

Beam Me Up said...

sweet simon I will certainly check it out and pass it on to the listeners!