Scientists worldwide have been working aggressively to develop effective ways to address climate change. One of the ways to mitigate this complex and global problem is to produce fusion energy without radioactive waste.
Fusion energy powers the sun and all the stars in the universe. Scientists believe that reproducing fusion energy is an effective solution for our energy problems and prevent climate change.
For years, it seems impossible to create fusion energy without radioactive fuel elements, but not anymore. This month, a group of international researchers led by an Australian physicist published a paper indicating that they developed a laser-based technique to create fusion energy without radioactive waste.
In the paper, lead author Heinrich Hora and his team of researchers stated that it is possible to create a hydrogen-boron fusion using two powerful lasers in rapid bursts. The laser bursts apply precise non-linear forces that compress the nuclei together.
Hora is an emeritus professor of theoretical physics at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney. According to him, “I think this puts our approach ahead of all other fusion energy technologies.” One of the techniques currently pursued by other international researchers is the deuterium-tritium fusion.
During the 1970s, he predicted that the fusion of hydrogen and boron may be possible without the need for thermal equilibrium.
A simpler approach to produce fusion energy
The hydrogen-boron fusion does not produce neutrons therefore its primary reaction has no radioactivity.
Furthermore Hora said, “It is exciting to see these reactions… in recent experiments and simulations. He noted that the technique proves some of his earlier theoretical work. It also “measured the laser-initiated chain reaction to create one billion-fold higher energy output than predicted under thermal equilibrium conditions.”
HB11 Energy, an Australia spin-off company holds the patents for Hora’s fusion energy technology. The company’s managing director, Warren McKenzie said, “If the next few years of research don’t uncover any major engineering hurdles, we could have prototype reactor within a decade.”
Additionally, McKenzie said their project much simpler from an engineering perspective. He explained that the fuels and waste are safe. The reactor does not require a heat exchanger and a steam turbine generator. They can buy the lasers off the shelf.