A nuclear fusion breakthrough
Islam News – Scientists studying nuclear fusion in California announced a major breakthrough yesterday. For the first time, a fusion reaction in a lab produced more energy than it took to start the reaction.
This month, 192 giant lasers blasted a small cylinder about the size of a pencil eraser that contained a frozen nubbin of hydrogen encased in diamond. The beams vaporized it.
In less than 100 trillionths of a second, 2.05 megajoules of energy — roughly the equivalent of a pound of TNT — bombarded the pellet. Out flowed a flood of neutron particles, the product of fusion, which carried about three megajoules of energy, a factor of 1.5 in energy gain.
Controlled fusion could offer an energy source that does not produce greenhouse gases or radioactive waste. But experts say a viable laser fusion power plant is likely to require gains of 30 to 100, a goal that could take decades to reach.
What is fusion? It’s the thermonuclear reaction that powers the sun and other stars — the fusing of hydrogen atoms into helium.
How does it work? Helium has slightly less mass than hydrogen atoms do. That difference is converted into a burst of energy.
Source: The New York Times