Scientists have created a technology for launching thermonuclear fusion with hypersonic

(ORDO NEWS) — Fusion technology has not yet proven its cost-effectiveness, but laboratories and private companies continue to try to achieve efficiency.

Most of them are experimenting with reactors such as tokamak or stelator, which heat the plasma to enormous temperatures, but there is another way.

Britain ‘s First Light Fusion has found a way to achieve fusion without expensive, powerful lasers or magnets. Its technology is based on the supersonic speed of a railgun projectile.

The technology being developed by Oxford-based startup First Light Fusion is inspired by scaled shrimp and their underwater weapons.

Clicking their pincers with amazing speed, they create shock waves, accelerating water jets to almost 100 km / h. At this speed, the water escapes, creating tiny bubbles.

They collide with each other and quickly burst, but for a short period of time the steam inside them heats up to tens of thousands of degrees.

How the technology was implemented

First Light engineers took this effect as a basis and tried to enhance it. They made a number of small cube-shaped targets with a side of about 1 cm, which created shock waves and bubbles as a result of the action of a projectile moving at great speed. These waves increased the pressure many times over in a small, centrally located fuel capsule.

The projectile was accelerated by an electromagnetic apparatus similar to a rail gun, up to 6.5 km / s (23,400 km / h) or up to 1/19 of the speed of sound.

When it hit the target, the pressure increased to 100 DPa. The ingenious design of the target increased this pressure by another 10 times – up to 1 TPa, and when the capsule explodes, pressure waves from all sides bring this figure to 100 TPa, as a result of which the fuel is accelerated to 70 km / s (252,000 km / h).

At this point, the fuel becomes the fastest object on Earth, and the pressure and temperature are enough to start a thermonuclear fusion reaction.

It releases a significant amount of thermal energy and neutrons that absorb the meter-thick walls of liquid lithium surrounding the chamber. The heat turns water into steam, which turns a turbine and produces electricity.

Application in practice

According to First Light’s calculations, each target will be able to produce enough energy to power an average building for one family for a year.

That is, about 6.2 MWh. In operating mode, the power plant will be able to produce that much power every 30 seconds, that is, its capacity will be 755 MW – slightly less than 1 GW, which produces an average nuclear power plant in the United States. But without nuclear waste and the risk of an accident.

The company has already demonstrated an inspection prototype from the UK Atomic Energy Bureau along with all technical and experimental data and statistical analysis.

Experts have confirmed that, in terms of the number of neutrons, one shot corresponds to a thermonuclear fusion reaction on deuterium fuel.

At the same time, the company spent only 59 million dollars on its technology, while the most modest budget of the ITER project is about 200 billion dollars.

First Light hopes to build a 150 MW, less than $1 billion pilot plant in the 2030s.


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