Nuclear fusion could power households by 2030
California scientists heralded a breakthrough that could commercialize nuclear fusion in a few decades, but a Vancouver-based company has a method that claims to have the technology in homes by the early 2030s.
Unlike the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which used lasers to achieve net gain energy, General Fusion compresses hydrogen plasma in a large cylinder to increase density and temperature.
General Fusion’s method uses high-powered pistons to force liquid metal around the plasma to build pressure until the mixture reaches 180 million degrees Fahrenheit — and fusion occurs.
The company plans to have its first commercial power plant online by the early 2030s, but is targeting 2027 to demonstrate plant-level fusion.
General Fusion is developing a massive plasma injector that uses pistons to compress the mixture in a new process that claims to be able to commercialize the clean energy by the early 2030s
Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) in California announced Monday that they have achieved a “net energy gain” by creating more energy in fusion than was used to activate it.
In the experiment, the high-energy lasers converged on a target about the size of a peppercorn, heated a hydrogen capsule to more than 180 million degrees Fahrenheit, and “briefly simulated the Sun’s conditions,” said the facility’s director, Dr. Kim Budil.
“I think it’s coming to the fore – and probably a few decades of research into the underlying technologies, with concerted effort and investment, could enable us to build a power plant,” she added.
However, General Fusion claims it will beat the scientists with its new method called Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF).
MTF uses magnetic fields to slow plasma losses and inertial compression to heat the plasma.
The unique process begins with the injection of hydrogen plasma into a liquid metal-lined vessel.
Pistons are then activated to compress, squish and build pressure on the liquid metal around the plasma until the plasma reaches the optimum temperature for producing fusion.
dr Michel Laberge, Founder and Chief Science Officer of General Fusion, said in a statement: “In 2002, I founded General Fusion with a vision to create technology that will combat climate change and end the world’s dependence on fossil fuels.
“To be successful, I needed a practical method that would overcome longstanding barriers to fusion commercialization. That’s why I chose Magnetized Target Fusion.
“To see after 20 years that our core technologies have proven themselves and are ready to be put together in the fusion demonstration is an incredible feeling.”
The company claims to have the world’s largest and most powerful plasma injector, enabling it to produce plasma targets with confinement times that exceed predictions of accepted scaling laws, and consistently achieve the conditions required for the company’s fusion demonstration.
Greg Twinney, CEO of General Fusion, said in a statement, “Commercialization of fusion power is within reach and General Fusion is poised to deliver it to the grid by the 2030s.
“We have the right team, the right technology and the right strategy to get us there.”
The company’s method uses high-power pistons to force liquid metal around the plasma to build pressure until the mixture reaches 180 million degrees Fahrenheit
The team is still working on the system but is nearing completion of the compression chamber (pictured)
Nuclear fusion is the energy that powers Earth’s sun and all the stars in space – and has been the holy grail for scientists to achieve in a laboratory.
Because nuclear fusion can rid the world of fossil fuels.
Nuclear fusion is the process by which two light atomic nuclei combine to form a heavier one, releasing tremendous amounts of energy in the process.
In the case of Earth’s sun and stars in space, cores must collide with each other at extremely high temperatures, exceeding tens of millions of degrees Fahrenheit.
The high temperature gives the nuclei enough energy to overcome their mutual electrical repulsion.
Once the nuclei come very close, the attractive nuclear force between them outweighs the electrical repulsion and causes them to merge.
To do this, the cores must be confined in a very small space to increase the probability of a collision.
Californian scientists announced Monday that they had achieved a “net energy gain” by creating more energy in fusion than was used to activate it. This was achieved by zapping a small hydrogen tank with 192 lasers
The extreme pressure created by its immense gravity creates the conditions for fusion in the Sun
The lasers used by the Californian scientists can produce temperatures and pressures similar to those found in the cores of stars and giant planets and inside exploding nuclear weapons.
The team used 2.1 megajoules of energy to create the reaction conditions and replicate the power of the sun.
This resulted in an output of 3.15 megajoules – a gain of around 150 percent.
While Tuesday’s announcement is a step toward clean energy, scientists are not blind to the work ahead.
Budil said there were still “significant hurdles” to overcome before the technology could be commercially available.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-11538943/Nuclear-fusion-power-homes-2030-Vancouver-company-announces-method-compresses-plasma.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Nuclear fusion could power households by 2030