Tags: nuclear | fusion | laser | experiment

Nuclear Fusion Laser Experiment Produces Successful Reaction

By    |   Thursday, 10 Oct 2013 12:35 PM

A nuclear fusion laser experiment recently performed by researchers at California's National Ignition Facility (NIF) has reportedly demonstrated a new technique to potentially produce a nuclear reaction without the hazardous particle byproducts.

The BBC reported the experiment, which was carried out in September, involved the world's most powerful laser shooting 192 beams of energy through a device that stretches 1,500 meters onto a small pellet of hydrogen fuel on which the nuclear fusion reaction takes place.

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The new method succeeded in "releasing more energy through a fusion reaction than it absorbed by the fuel going in," CBS News reported.

Researchers, however, reportedly stopped short of igniting the hydrogen fuel, which is the ultimate aim of the procedure. If successfully carried out, it would produce an unlimited, cheap, and most importantly clean source of energy.

Fusion is the energy source at the center of the sun's incredibly dense core, which powers the star and gives it its immense amount of energy, the BBC noted.

The goal of producing nuclear fusion has eluded scientist for 50 years.

In order to produce nuclear fusion on earth, lasers must exceed a temperature of 180 million degrees Fahrenheit, LiveScience.com noted. In the process, however, the high-energy neutrons produced contain materials that can become radioactive when interacting with other elements.

The progress made by the researchers last month was characterized as experts as "the single most meaningful step for fusion in recent years, and demonstrates NIF is well on its way towards the coveted target of ignition and self-sustaining fusion," the BBC wrote.

Despite the recent achievement, the NIF's research has for the time being been hampered as a result of the partial government shutdown that began Oct. 1, with the $3.5 billion Livermore, Calif.-based research facility being among the many government institutions furloughed, CBS reported.

As a result of the shutdown, the NIF has not been releasing any updates to the press.

In addition to U.S. efforts to produce nuclear fusion, the French government is also said to be pursuing the same goal through different measures.

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Related stories:

Fusion: Our First, Best, and Only Hope

NKorea Claims to Achieve Elusive Nuclear Fusion

Iran Sets 2020 Target for Nuclear Fusion Reactor

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A nuclear fusion laser experiment recently performed by researchers at California's National Ignition Facility (NIF) has reportedly demonstrated a new technique to potentially produce a nuclear reaction without the hazardous particle byproducts.
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2013-35-10
Thursday, 10 Oct 2013 12:35 PM
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