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"The building blocks of all creation"

There are only 2 known options when it comes to Nuclear Fusion Reactor. The first is a Laser Ignition Fusion Reactor and the second is a Plasma Fusion Reactor.

Laser Ignition

This machine has already been constructed in California. It involves 192 of the most powerful lasers in the world being fired into a single point. At this point of focus, temperatures reach tens of millions of degrees celcius. A small container of fuel is then entered into this space (Deuterium – an isotope of Hydrogen). This fuel is then instantaneously turned to plasma, and the deuterium particles begin to fuse together to produce Helium.

The current problems with this machine are the following:

– It is very difficult to contain the fusion, so the fuel is a very, very small volume (measures in microns cubed)
– levels of precision necessary are ridiculously high
– It is difficult to sustain fusion
– It currently draws more power than it produces

Plasma

These machines have also already been constructed. There is one in England (already mentioned in this blog – Tokamac) and one in South Korea (known as KSTAR). These machines use super powerful magnets to hold super heated plasma in a loop or donut shape. This plasma is held for months at a time, fusing continuously. They have already reached energy stable – max energy in = max energy out.

The current problems with this machine are the following:

– large numbers of rare semi-conducting magnets are needed
– Parts of the KSTAR machine need to be kept at -269.9 degrees C.
– Not yet possible to run continuously (i.e. years at a time)

 

So fusion reactors are not entirely things of science fiction. They are there, in the background. Maybe Nuclear Fusion is not as far away as some people may think? Here is some food for thought:

During WW2, it took the words greatest minds 6 years to unlock the secrets of nuclear fission in a massive secret project known as the Manhattan project. This project was going to save the world from the threats of fascism and communism.

If we gathered all the worlds greatest minds now, in 2012, how long would it take to save the world?

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