Nuclear Fusion – Achieved burning plasma state via laser

deuterium and tritium

In the USA, the burning plasma state was achieved during inertial fusion. The researchers describe this as a decisive step for the generation of energy by nuclear fusion.

Livermore (USA). Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) National Ignition Facility (NIF) are researching what is known as inertial fusion , in which a fuel pellet of hydrogen nuclei is heated with lasers . They managed the first merger a few years ago. However, the full energy of the lasers could not be used.

According to a publication in the journal Nature , the LLNL team has now succeeded in generating so-called burning plasma . The scientists describe this as a decisive step for the generation of energy by nuclear fusion .

Hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium

In the process, the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium are fused at a very high temperature to form helium. In the NIF, the hydrogen isotopes are located in a hollow chamber that is bombarded with 192 powerful lasers. This heats up the inner walls to such an extent that X-rays are produced. The hydrogen isotopes are compressed so much that their plasma fuses at 50 million degrees Celsius to form helium nuclei, releasing energy in the process.

Energy feedback process achieved

As the physicists report, the energy feedback process has now been achieved in this process. In physics , this is also referred to as self-heating, because the resulting helium nuclei continue to heat up the plasma. Once the energy from self-heating exceeds the energy needed to start the fusion reaction, the plasma changes to the burning plasma state.

This was possible because significantly more laser energy was used than in previous experiments. In addition, the researchers have optimized the energy transfer between the laser beams and the geometry of the inner walls of the cavity has been changed.

1.3 megajoules of energy

During an experiment in August 2021, an energy of 1.3 megajoules was measured in the reactor. This corresponds to 70 percent of the laser energy used. Despite reaching the burning plasma state, the fusion process still requires significantly more energy than is released in the process. Inertial fusion can therefore not yet be used to generate energy.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button