Laser-driven technique for creating fusion is now within reach, say researchers

Credit: ORNL

A laser-driven technique for creating fusion that dispenses with the need for radioactive fuel elements and leaves no toxic radioactive waste is now within reach, say researchers.

Dramatic advances in powerful, high-intensity lasers are making it viable for scientists to pursue what was once thought impossible: creating energy based on hydrogen-boron reactions. And an Australian physicist is in the lead, armed with a patented design and working with international collaborators on the remaining scientific challenges.

In a paper in the scientific journal Laser and Particle Beams today, lead author Heinrich Hora from the University of New South Wales in Sydney and international colleagues argue that the path to hydrogen-boron fusion is now viable, and may be closer to realization than other approaches, such as the deuterium-tritium fusion approach being pursued by U.S. National Ignition Facility (NIF) and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor under construction in France.

"I think this puts our approach ahead of all other fusion energy technologies," said Hora, who predicted in the 1970s that fusing hydrogen and boron might be possible without the need for . Rather than heat fuel to the temperature of the Sun using massive, high-strength magnets to control superhot plasmas inside a doughnut-shaped toroidal chamber (as in ITER), hydrogen-boron fusion is achieved using two powerful lasers in rapid bursts, which apply precise non-linear forces to compress the nuclei together.

Hydrogen-boron fusion produces no neutrons and, therefore, no radioactivity in its primary reaction. And unlike most other sources of power production - like coal, gas and nuclear, which rely on heating liquids like water to drive turbines - the energy generated by hydrogen-boron fusion converts directly into electricity. But the downside has always been that this needs much higher temperatures and densities - almost 3 billion degrees Celsius, or 200 times hotter than the core of the Sun.

However, dramatic advances in laser technology are close to making the two-laser approach feasible, and a spate of recent experiments around the world indicate that an 'avalanche' could be triggered in the trillionth-of-a-second blast from a petawatt-scale laser pulse, whose fleeting bursts pack a quadrillion watts of power. If scientists could exploit this avalanche, Hora said, a breakthrough in proton-boron fusion was imminent.

"It is a most exciting thing to see these reactions confirmed in recent experiments and simulations," said Hora, an emeritus professor of theoretical physics at UNSW. "Not just because it proves some of my earlier theoretical work, but they have also measured the laser-initiated chain reaction to create one billion-fold higher energy output than predicted under thermal equilibrium conditions."

Together with 10 colleagues in six nations - including from Israel's Soreq Nuclear Research Centre and the University of California, Berkeley - Hora describes a roadmap for the development of hydrogen-boron fusion based on his design, bringing together recent breakthroughs and detailing what further research is needed to make the reactor a reality.

An Australian spin-off company, HB11 Energy, holds the patents for Hora's process. "If the next few years of research don't uncover any major engineering hurdles, we could have prototype reactor within a decade," said Warren McKenzie, managing director of HB11.

"From an engineering perspective, our approach will be a much simpler project because the fuels and waste are safe, the reactor won't need a heat exchanger and steam turbine generator, and the lasers we need can be bought off the shelf," he added.

Explore further

New hope for ultimate clean energy: fusion power

More information: H. Hora et al, Road map to clean energy using laser beam ignition of boron-hydrogen fusion, Laser and Particle Beams (2017). DOI: 10.1017/S0263034617000799
Citation: Laser-driven technique for creating fusion is now within reach, say researchers (2017, December 13) retrieved 15 October 2019 from
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Dec 13, 2017
Hm, I thought Eric Lerner was at the lead in this field. But this is a fast changing field, it seems.

Dec 13, 2017
This could be the power source that makes VASIMR and 39 days mars transit possible

Dec 13, 2017
This site should utilise A.I. to identify the nutters. They always make several posts in a row!!! Not hard to spot them.

Dec 13, 2017
This site should utilise A.I. to identify the nutters. They always make several posts in a row!!! Not hard to spot them.
AI not needed to spot zephyr. Thousands of posts under dozens of sockpuppets. His accent always gives him away.

Dec 15, 2017
From these scientist procedures, it is evident that they did not yet understand the causes of fusion. Natural fusion comes from hydrogen atoms that unite and form their isotopes (deuterium and tritium). This means that hydrogen atoms should be forced to approach each other and that neutrons are formed by certain processes.
The fundamental cause of the release of energy from matter is the formation of gluon. When he understands it, he should ask, what to do with these gluons, and where to send them to get energy. There is a much simpler way to gain energy, using magnetism, but science has not yet figured out who provokes the appearance of magnetism.

Dec 15, 2017
There can be an infinite amount of energy-perpetuum mobile, but these "scientific agents" make it easier to make money from the ruling circles of the states that are the organizers of all such fakes, because they also take the habit of the people in a variety of ways

Dec 16, 2017
Heh, fusion in ten years again.

I don't see why someone doesn't go throw a couple billion dollars each at the cold fusion guys, the Bussard polywell guys, the Lawrenceville Dense Plasma Focus guys, and about ten billion at the stellarator guys, and stand back and see whose works. The only people who seem to get the money are the petawatt laser guys and the tokamak guys-- the two most expensive ways to do it.

If you want my guess, the polywell seems to be doing the best, but I'm willing to argue it. The stellarator seems to have good theoretical chops, but doesn't have the track record of the polywell.

If none of them works, oh well, we wasted a hundredth of the money being spent on ITER. This is duh.

Dec 16, 2017

Unknown energy source with enormous potential?

Andrea Rossi's machine again. He got a US patent for it in 2015. Did he make any money with it since then? A simple device making cheap energy could be used to power serious business. Tell me about it when he gets rich.

Dec 16, 2017
If it is known that something is done, then it is easy to separate it with reverse interactions. Likewise, the same thing should be done with every attempt to get something from the chain of the formation process of anything. But the problem is that science does not know how matter forms and from which it forms, and in particular is ignorance of the origin of magnetism and gravity, which are the basic factors of all phenomena and matter of various forms and energies.

Dec 16, 2017
Andrea Rossi's machine again. He got a US patent for it in 2015. Did he make any money with it since then? A simple device making cheap energy could be used to power serious business. Tell me about it when he gets rich
Rossi has lost all credibility with loss of IH supporter and lawsuit, and his latest black box demonstration where this happened:

-AFAIK his short explanation did not include a photo or vid of the inside of this box and a reenactment of what he did during the test.

-hard at this point not to conclude that he's a fraud.

Hope is transferred to Dr Mills and his hydrino engine.

Dec 17, 2017
Mills is actually as unreliable as Rossi - recently he just switched his research paradigm once again: from Suncell reactor to exploding wires
Exploding wires?? Mills had understandable problems with obtaining high temp pv components. That configuration has taken a back seat to heat capture for the moment, but it would be the best ultimate setup as his purported hydrino reaction gives off most of its energy as light. Hence 'brilliant light power'.

These things necessarily take time. You don't like it just because it doesn't fit into your dense aether fantasies.

I'm confident that if it does pan out, your theory will miraculously be able to explain it. And further you will claim that 'you knew it before some time already since'.

So relax.

Dec 17, 2017
With compare to Quark-X reactor of Andrea Rossi we can at least see an advance in level of control of nuclear reaction by electricity and introduction of plasma discharge
Ha no, all you see is some mysterious operation taking place inside a box with rossi fiddling with it during the demo.

He did not explain what he was doing at the time, nor did he show the observers what was inside that box.

The easiest explanation after all this time is that something inside the box was heating the reactor, and that he turned it off when someone went to take a measurement that would have revealed it.

Done. Gone.

Dec 17, 2017
Let's stick with the real cold fusion guys, shall we? Mills and Rossi are the comedy fraudster corps. And this is the big problem with cold fusion; it's ripe for fraud because of the lack of scrutiny. From a technical standpoint, the big problem is lack of reproducible results. Unless or until someone gets reproducible results it will continue to languish. And nobody appears to know how to do that.

Dec 17, 2017
The problem with all that, @mac, is the giant hot fusion reactors in the sky.

Data rules. Data always rules.

Dec 17, 2017
The point is, the cold fusion can run from minimal scale.
No, it can't. Not if it's not repeatable. It doesn't matter how much money you throw at it if it can't be repeated at will anywhere anytime.

And in case you hadn't noticed I'm not exactly all stoked about either tokamaks or these laser schemes.

Dec 17, 2017

I was there when they made the 4004 and the 8008. You have no idea what you're talking about, @mac. Let's see links to papers, because I think you're making stuff up.

Dec 18, 2017
Mills is not exploding wires he is melting tungsten electrodes

-@ Sept 9 2016. Which is why he had to switch to molten silver.
-If only we had a muon catalyzer...
Let's stick with the real cold fusion guys, shall we?
haha what 'real cold fusion' are you talking about? Muon catalyzed fusion?

-If only we had a muon catalyzer...
Mills and Rossi are the comedy fraudster corps
Rossi's dead. Mills: still too early to tell.

Dec 18, 2017
Tried to fix the above post... only partial success... must_kill_spellcheck kaff kaff...

Dec 18, 2017
All of the prolonged delays in experiments to form a cold fusion, or any other, is evidence that science is still unaware of how energy gets from matter, but naturally. The energy state of the matter is free of gluon, found in a 3kg (3 quark and 3 gluon binder) particles. When matter is formed from Aether substance, 3kg of particles and especially free gluons are formed. When the gluon enters the 3kg particle, a neutron forms.
If thermodynamic conditions change, the gluon in the neutron disintegrates and emits an electron, and a neutron forms a proton. Now, the electron, for the sake of energy balance, begins to circulate around the protons and this is a hydrogen atom.
Call out the Tokamak experts and get this done. They will understand that in their way they do not lend themselves the possibility of obtaining free energy.

Dec 18, 2017
@Otto, the guys down at SPAWAR were doing fairly serious research, but were never able to get consistent results. And they published, though not very much. The results look more like LENR than what one would call "cold fusion." Since no one knows how it really works, it's kinda hard to figure out how to make an energy source out of it, but it's clear that there are cold neutron reactions taking place, at this point.

I don't think we're going to figure this out very quickly. It's obvious there's something going on here we don't understand well enough to get a handle on it.

Dec 18, 2017
@mac, Einstein didn't invent the 4004 or the 8008. Or anything else Intel ever made at Fab 5.

Do try to pay attention to the actual conversation.

See, this is what the #physicscranks do: change the subject when their bullshit is exposed.

Dec 19, 2017
Why do you and science so complicate the attempt to find out the truth in any phenomenon that we want to explain. You are in love with the "scientific results" that you believe that you have discovered some new particles, and so from the natural quark you make a fake quartz and other particles. Science now argues that everything is derived from nothing, and they always get some new "products" in particle collisions. How do these "fruits" form and how? Clear out this enigma and you will all return to the path of understanding the true causes of the phenomenon. The basic natural law formed Aether from matter, and in various forms it has a "family relationship" with Aether in the form of two basic phenomena, which are gravity and magnetism. If the process of creating magnetism is unknown, science will never come to the truth in any process. Fusion can not be accomplished using lasers, because light occurs after the breakdown of quark gluon plasma (magnetists and more ...).

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