U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) researchers seem to have discovered the secret to hot fusion.
Simulations are giving researchers a far better picture of the process behind fusion. The process, magnetic flux pumping, has long baffled physicists.
Complex simulations can enable researchers to unravel and potentially reproduce that process in reactors. The DOE’s Princeton Particle Physical Laboratory (PPPL) conducted the simulations, Phys.org reported.
Magnetic flux pumping has long baffled physicists. In particular, the lack of sawtooth gravitons confused experts. Present theories state that fusion requires sawtooth gravitons.
Magnetic Process might Make More Efficient Reactors Possible
The magnetic flux pumping can make hybrid scenarios that allow plasma to operate in any state. That would make a commercial fusion reactor possible. Advantages to this can include self-regulating fusion reactors.
“This mechanism may be of considerable interest for future large-scale fusion experiments,” lead author Isabel Krebs said. Krebs described the simulations in a paper called Physics of Plasmas.
High-powered computers at PPPL ran the simulations. Krebs used the M3D-C1 code to simulate fusion.
One use of Krebs’ research will be to make reactors like the Wendelstein 7-X superconducting stellarator in Greifswald, Germany, more efficient. The stellarator uses magnetic confinement fields to produce fusion reactors. The Wendelstein 7-X reportedly produced the highest temperatures ever recorded on Earth.
DOE Invests $36.4 million Hot Fusion Research
Interestingly, the DOE has appropriated $36.4 million for research into magnetic confinement of plasma. Plasma is the super-hot “soup” of ions and free electrons that makes fusion possible.
Researchers will use the funds in attempts to develop a contained, self-sustaining reaction. That means the DOE is trying to finance a commercial fusion reactor.
The research DOE is funding includes work of US scientists with the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator, a press release states. The Stellarator work is one of 37 magnetic confinement research projects the DOE is funding.
Other projects the DOE is funding including research with the largest Tokamak reactor in the US. That reactor is the Dill-D National Fusion Facility at General Atomics in San Diego.
The DOE will spend money on theoretical and experimental spherical tokamaks will. The compact apple-shaped spherical tokamak would be smaller and more efficient than other reactors.
America Needs to Fund Fusion Now
Closely related to Krebs’ research is computational modeling plasma behavior. The PPPL, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and four private firms will conduct the research.
These funds are a good start but far more money is needed. Uncle Sam should spend $37 billion on this research. Making fusion a reality would do far more for America’s national security than the $717 billion Defense Authorization Act. A good start would be redirecting the $21.9 billion invested in nuclear weapons to fusion.
The Pentagon will waste much of that money on obsolete weapons programs designed to pad contractors’ bank accounts. Hopefully, Congress will adopt new priorities and redirect the money being wasted on the border wall, agricultural subsidies, and defense spending to fusion.
If the United States fails to fund fusion research, China will. I have to wonder how giving the People’s Republic a lead in this critical technology is “Making America Great?”
Hopefully, billionaires like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos will invest part of their fortunes in fusion research. The world needs the vast amounts of clean energy hot fusion would produce.