The production of clean nuclear energy may be a little bit closer to reality as AWE (Atomic Weapons Establishment) a British nuclear research facility and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory join forces with the America’s National Ignition Facility (NIF).

The collaboration between these bodies hopes to push nuclear fusion technology to the point where it becomes a sustainable energy source. The scientists at these establishments use high intensity lasers to fuse hydrogen isotopes together then use the resulting heat energy released to drive turbines.

…more energy is released than is consumed.

The problem faced by the scientists is how to hit a point in energy production where more energy is released than is consumed.

The goal of the experiments into fusion is to reach a point of ‘ignition’ where the nuclear reaction becomes self sustaining and create a viable source of energy.

…produced more energy than the world was consuming…

In an experiment conducted at the NIF using the largest high intensity laser in the world produced more energy than the world was consuming, unfortunately this only lasted for a fraction of a second so to reach a self sustaining reaction the laser would have to create a thousand times the amount of neutrons it currently does.

Unlike nuclear fission, that’s used in current nuclear reactors, nuclear fission is believed to produce far less harmful radiation and due to the pressure required to sustain energy production there is little risk of a catastrophic chain reaction as seen at the Chernobyl power plant in 1986.

 

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