Dry-run experiments verify key of Sandia’s nuclear fusion concept
Magnetically imploded tubes called liners, intended to help produce controlled nuclear fusion at scientific “break-even” energies or better within the next few years, have functioned successfully in preliminary tests, according to a Sandia research paper…
To exceed scientific break-even is the most hotly sought-after goal of fusion research, in which the energy released by a fusion reaction is greater than the energy put into it — an achievement that would have extraordinary energy and defense implications.
That the liners survived their electromagnetic drubbing is a key step in stimulating further Sandia testing of a concept called MagLIF (Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion), which will use magnetic fields and laser pre-heating in the quest for energetic fusion.
In the dry-run experiments just completed, cylindrical beryllium liners remained reasonably intact as they were imploded by huge magnetic field of Sandia’s Z machine, the world’s most powerful pulsed-power accelerator. Had they overly distorted, they would have proved themselves incapable of shoveling together nuclear fuel — deuterium and possibly tritium — to the point of fusing them. Sandia researchers expect to add deuterium fuel in experiments scheduled for 2013.
A later simulation, published last January in PRL by Sandia’s Steve Slutz and Sandia researcher Roger Vesey, showed that a more powerful accelerator generating 60 million amperes or more could reach “high-gain” fusion conditions, where the fusion energy released greatly exceeds (by more than 1,000 times) the energy supplied to the fuel…
RTFA for all the technical details. Interesting stuff.
I don’t understand it well enough to scare myself – but, I’m confident there are a few folks around who feel that any “oops” moment in this research will leave a very large hole where Albuquerque used to be.