HANNOVER MESSE 2018, 23 - 27 April
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Lasers for fusion energy without atomic waste

According to the patents held by an Australian electric company, the next decade will see a fusion reactor promising energy yields a billionfold higher than ever before possible without any radioactive waste.

13 Feb. 2018
Roland Ackermann
Lasers for fusion energy without atomic waste (Foto: ITER ORGANIZATION)

Major progress in high-performance, ultra-intense lasers allows researchers to pursue what was once considered impossible: generating fusion energy based on hydrogen-boron reactions. The approaches proposed by HB11 Energy , a spin-off of the University of New South Wales Sydney, are looking to be more feasible than the ones being explored in the U.S. – deuterium-tritium fusion and ITER in France, currently "under construction".

In their primary reaction, hydrogen-boron fusions do not produce neutrons, and thus radioactivity. Energy is converted directly into electricity. But this process requires extremely high temperatures and densities: nearly three billion degrees Celsius – 200 times hotter than the core of the sun. Advancements in laser technology are apparently on the verge of making a two-laser approach a reality. In the millions second bubble of a laser pulse, an avalanche fusion reaction on the petawatt scale could be triggered, with volatile eruptions promising 1 billion watts of power.