Our current energy sources can only take us so far. Scientists wish to get away from the traditional turbine type power plant system that we’ve been using for the last hundred years. Too long we’ve relied on water, the sun, or harnessing wind for energy. It’s time to harness the power of fusion and plasma.
In the past, fusion has been unstable. Fusion reactors can only maintain a spinning plasma doughnut for a few minutes before it unravels. It takes a great deal of heat and energy to start the reaction and some rare earth metals as well. The mineral of choice is typically radioactive.
HB11, an Australian company from the South Whales University, has come up with a radical new approach. Rather than trying to funnel plasma into a shape to potentially fuse it to become another element, they went with an easier approach. HB11 uses, well HB11 pellets. Their company name stems from boron B11 in combination with hydrogen. When placed in a cylinder, the HB11 pellets are excited with two 10-petawatt pulse lasers. One laser is used to create the plasma, the other one generates a magnetic field. The hydrogen and boron atoms are turned into plasma and collide with each other to form helium and alpha particles. The alpha particles are then used to create electricity.
It’s going to be at least another forty years before HB11 has a power plant up and running with a fusion chain reaction. Who knows, maybe they’ll get the funding they need and get it running in less time. In the meantime, making the world’s first fusion reactor seems to be a bit of a race. Other companies such as Tri-alpha energy, or LPPFusion have their own methods of generating a potential chain reaction with plasma as well.
So, we have plenty to look forward to when it comes to fusion energy. An abundant energy source, multiple companies trying to make it happen, and the potential to get away from fossil fuels, means a cleaner world to pass on to the next generation. At some point they may even find a way to scale the reactor size to fit on a space ship for deep space exploration.
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