Nuclear fusion powers the stars and offers the promise of unlimited, clean energy on Earth.
But controlled thermonuclear fusion in the lab usually requires large and expensive magnetic field coils to stably confine burning plasma, ionized nuclei that collide to initiate nuclear fusion. A&A’s Fusion Z-Pinch Experiments (FuZE) Lab has demonstrated a smaller, cheaper method: We have measured sustained nuclear fusion for the first time from a 50-cm long plasma column called a Z-pinch. This method compresses a flowing plasma using electromagnetic forces, which drive the plasma to higher temperatures and densities.
While the Z-pinch is not a new plasma confinement concept, it was largely abandoned as a path for fusion energy because the plasma was not stable, which limited how long it could be confined. To get around this issue, we exploited the fact that flows can stabilize plasma, and our flowing plasma was maintained five thousand times longer than a static plasma. We also observed the sustained release of telltale energetic neutrons signaling nuclear fusion. Because this approach provides a path to nuclear fusion without coils, it could be used in the future for long-duration fusion burns in a compact and low-cost device.
The Latest on: Nuclear fusion
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The Latest on: Nuclear fusion
- A realistic model of the ITER tokamak magnetic fusion deviceon January 19, 2021 at 6:42 am
Tokamaks, devices that use magnetic fields to confine plasma into torus-shaped chamber, could play a crucial role in the development of highly performing nuclear fusion reactors. The ITER tokamak, ...
- Nuclear fusion group calls for building a pilot plant by the 2040son January 17, 2021 at 4:07 pm
The main criticism about nuclear fusion has been that its vast potential as a commercial source of energy has always been just out of reach.
- Nuclear fusion tech developer General Fusion now has Shopify and Amazon founders backing iton January 14, 2021 at 9:45 am
In a brief announcement today, the Canadian nuclear fusion technology developer General Fusion announced that the investment firm created by Shopify founder Tobias Lütke has joined the company’s cap ...
- International nuclear fusion development points to importance of collaborationon January 11, 2021 at 6:32 pm
Fusion reactors are the subject of global interest and collaboration, and in the same month as Britain began its search, China successfully powered up its own first experimental nuclear fusion reactor ...
- Nuclear fusion group calls for building a pilot plant by the 2040son January 5, 2021 at 4:00 pm
The main criticism about nuclear fusion has been that its vast potential as a commercial source of energy has always been just out of reach. But a group of the nation's top fusion scientists and ...
- Is nuclear fusion the answer to the climate crisis?on December 28, 2020 at 9:16 am
Promising new studies suggest the long elusive technology may be capable of producing electricity for the grid by the end of the decade A rendering of Sparc, a nuclear fusion reactor currently ...
- KSTAR fusion device maintains 100 million degrees for record 20 secondson December 27, 2020 at 4:00 pm
However, progress continues to be made on the various approaches to practical nuclear fusion being pursued, of which tokamak reactors remain a frontrunner. In another promising development for the ...
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