Fusion Will Produce lots of Power, Whenever We Get ItA new mathematical model has shown that fusion, an energy source that we have yet to master here on earth, will supply us with plenty of energy. If we can just make it stable.
The simulations, performed by Sandia Labs, were based around a new way of causing fusion. Rather than use X-rays to drive implosions--a favorite of Sandia--the calculations assumed a preheated metal cylinder wrapped in magnetic field lines. And when they finished the calculations, they found the method to be 50 times more efficient than the techniques that Sandia are currently employing.
This is great news because high energy yields from Magnetic Inertial Fusion (MIF) have long thought to be impossible. Said:
"People didn't think there was a high-gain option for magnetized inertial fusion (MIF) but these numerical simulations show there is," said Steve Slutz, the lead author of the research paper detailing their discovery. "Now we have to see if nature will let us do it. In principle, we don't know why we can't."
The best part is that this style of fusion can make energy from plain old seawater, rather than relying on rare and dangerous things like uranium. and in the simulations, they found that they were getting 100 times the energy that was put into the reactor when they put in 60 million amperes. But when they increased the input current by just a little, to 70 million amperes, they got a whopping 1,000 times the input energy.
Of course, there are still technical challenges to overcome. Sandia Lab’s Z machine is only capable of bringing 27 million amperes to bear on a target, and researchers have never even managed to produce 1 times the input energy with existing techniques.
Sandia Labs are already testing the hardware required for a trial run of this new reactor technology and expect to have some experimental evidence as to its feasibility by 2013. the first parts of the design are undergoing testing this month.
Actually creating a reactor based on the technique might be a little difficult, because the magnetic fields need to incredibly powerful and incredibly precise. But if they do manage to succeed, well, we might have fusion power in less than a decade.