A team of scientists in Australia claims to have designed a radical new form of nuclear fusion reactor technology, for which they have obtained patents, reports New Atlas.
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A new approach to nuclear fusion
Called Startup HB11, the project came out of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and has so far received patents in the United States, China and Japan.
The company uses advanced lasers to trigger the nuclear fusion of hydrogen and boron and apparently uses no radioactive fuel. The secret, they say, lies in the cutting edge nature of their laser and in a good dose of luck.
Counterintuitively, the laser does not heat the materials. Instead, increase the speed of hydrogen until (by chance) it collides with boron and starts a reaction.
“It could be said that we are using hydrogen as a dart and hoping to hit a boron, and if we hit one, we can start a fusion reaction,” said Warren McKenzie, chief executive officer of the project, in New Atlas. He added that HB11’s approach is “more precise” than previous designs, which use heat to approach a fusion reaction. In a heat-fed reaction, the materials are heated to increase their collision possibilities (via increased kinetic energy).
A new source of energy production
When a hydrogen particle is likely to merge with a boron particle, the reaction launches helium atoms – without electrons – with a positive charge.
This charge is the source of electricity.
The general theory behind this idea was developed by UNSW professor emeritus Heinrich Hora, who said in a statement that he had studied “a laser-boron fusion approach for over four decades at the UNSW”.
One could say, it’s the job of his life.
And if the practice of nuclear fusion corresponded to Hora’s theory, one day these patents could serve as a prologue to a brave new world of energy production, one in which – without the dangers of radiation or extreme levels of heat – even private families they might one day have their own nuclear fusion generator.