Archive for the ‘nuclear energy’ category

May 19, 2023

Demystifying vortex rings in nuclear fusion and supernovae

Posted by in categories: engineering, nuclear energy, physics, space

Better understanding the formation of swirling, ring-shaped disturbances—known as vortex rings—could help nuclear fusion researchers compress fuel more efficiently, bringing it closer to becoming a viable energy source.

The model developed by researchers at the University of Michigan could aid in the design of the capsule, minimizing the energy lost while trying to ignite the reaction that makes stars shine. In addition, the model could help other engineers who must manage the mixing of fluids after a shock wave passes through, such as those designing supersonic jet engines, as well as physicists trying to understand supernovae.

“These move outward from the collapsing star, populating the universe with the materials that will eventually become nebulae, planets and even new stars—and inward during fusion implosions, disrupting the stability of the burning fusion fuel and reducing the efficiency of the reaction,” said Michael Wadas, a doctoral candidate in at U-M and corresponding author of the study.

May 18, 2023

The First-to-Fusion Power Wars Are On

Posted by in categories: military, nuclear energy

This device is a pulse magneto-fusion power system whose successors could produce electricity from the first commercial fusion reactor as early as 2028.

Creating a continuously controlled fusion reaction and not a thermonuclear bomb requires a confined environment where high densities and high temperatures can turn hydrogen gas into plasma. The luxury the Sun enjoys as a big ball of hydrogen comes from its enormous size and immense gravitational forces which serve to confine the ongoing nuclear fusion within it. But here on Earth, we need powerful magnets to replace the gravity confinement that the Sun provides. And it was thought until recently that our confinement efforts to create dense plasma faced a speed limit barrier that caused the field to break. We now know that what was called the Greenwald Limit no longer exists after experiments done at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. So now the conditions to generate positive energy yields from controlled fusion means we are getting close to the first fusion reactors.

Enter Helion Energy and Pulse Fusion

Continue reading “The First-to-Fusion Power Wars Are On” »

May 17, 2023

Microsoft Has Vowed to Achieve Nuclear Fusion Within Five Years

Posted by in category: nuclear energy

It’s a bold move. Let’s see if it works out.

May 14, 2023

New material facilitates search for room-temperature superconductivity

Posted by in categories: computing, engineering, nuclear energy, physics, transportation

Scientists from Jilin University, the Center for High Pressure Science and Technology Advanced Research, and Skoltech have synthesized lanthanum-cerium polyhydride, a material that promises to facilitate studies of near-room-temperature superconductivity. It offers a compromise between the polyhydrides of lanthanum and cerium in terms of how much cooling and pressure it requires. This enables easier experiments, which might one day lead scientists to compounds that conduct electricity with zero resistance at ambient conditions—an engineering dream many years in the making. The study was published in Nature Communications.

One of the most intriguing unsolved questions in modern physics is: Can we make a material that conducts electricity with zero resistance (superconducts) at and ? Such a superconductor would enable power grids with unprecedented efficiency, ultrafast microchips, and electromagnets so powerful they could levitate trains or control fusion reactors.

In their search, scientists are probing multiple classes of materials, slowly nudging up the temperature they superconduct at and decreasing the they require to remain stable. One such group of materials is polyhydrides—compounds with extremely high hydrogen content. At −23°C, the current champion for is a lanthanum polyhydride with the formula LaH10. The trade-off: It requires the pressure of 1.5 million atmospheres. At the opposite end of the spectrum, cuprates are a class of materials that superconduct under normal atmospheric pressure but require —no more than −140°.

May 14, 2023

Characterizing Clusters in Nuclear Collisions

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, particle physics

When two helium-4 (4He) nuclei smash together, they form a beryllium-8 nucleus. A third 4 He striking this nucleus may result in an excited form of carbon-12 (12 C), with the 4 He particles arranging in a neat cluster. Clustering of neutrons and protons during high-energy collisions is known to determine the stability of the collision products. But how clustering affects the dynamics and reaction outcomes of high-energy collisions remains an open question. Now Catalin Frosin of the University of Florence, Italy, and his colleagues report experimental data that detail how reaction products form during this kind of collision [1]. The results support models that suggest increased collision energy can drive clustering activity and result in emission of lighter, more energetic particles.

The experiments entail bombarding 12 C targets with pulsed beams of sulfur-32 and neon-20. Frosin and his colleagues characterized the resulting fragments using FAZIA, a detector designed to probe charged particles around the Fermi energy. Meanwhile, the team ran simulations, with and without cluster correlations, to predict the nucleon interactions and the decays of unstable products. Models with clustering produced particles that are more energetic—in agreement with the experimental data. The researchers attributed this effect to energy and momentum conservation in the nucleon–nucleon and nucleon–cluster collisions during the early, dynamic phase of the interaction.

The findings demonstrate FAZIA’s capability to extract precise information about the properties of nuclear fragments. The researchers say that similar experiments performed elsewhere looked only at carbon+carbon reactions. Extending them to heavier reactants provides a wider arena for interpreting fragmentation mechanisms.

May 13, 2023

Microsoft bets big on Sam Altman-backed Helion to deliver clean fusion energy by 2028

Posted by in categories: business, nuclear energy, robotics/AI

Unlike other businesses pushing clean nuclear energy, Helion is working on a “pulsed non-ignition fusion system.”

Microsoft Corporation has placed a big bet on Helion by agreeing to purchase power generated by its nuclear fusion process. Helion is also backed by Sam Altman, the OpenAI CEO with whom Microsoft is spearheading the artificial intelligence (AI) race.

Nuclear fusion is the holy grail of clean energy as it promises the generation of power without the emission of carbon or hassles of radioactive nuclear waste.

Continue reading “Microsoft bets big on Sam Altman-backed Helion to deliver clean fusion energy by 2028” »

May 12, 2023

Helion aims for commercial fusion by 2028

Posted by in categories: business, nuclear energy, physics

Helion Energy has announced that Microsoft will become its first customer, in a deal that aims to supply 50 MW of fusion power by 2028.

Assembled electromagnetic coils that will be used in Helion’s 7th fusion prototype, Polaris. (Photo: Business Wire)

Continue reading “Helion aims for commercial fusion by 2028” »

May 10, 2023

Microsoft just made a huge, far-from-certain bet on nuclear fusion

Posted by in category: nuclear energy

Scientists have been dreaming about nuclear fusion for decades. Microsoft thinks the technology is nearly ready to plug into the grid.

Microsoft just signed a jaw-dropping agreement to purchase electricity from a nuclear fusion generator. Nuclear fusion, often called the Holy Grail of energy, is a potentially limitless source of clean energy that scientists have been chasing for the better part of a century.

Continue reading “Microsoft just made a huge, far-from-certain bet on nuclear fusion” »

May 10, 2023

Nuclear Power Breakthrough Makes “Limitless” Energy Possible

Posted by in categories: business, nuclear energy

Editor’s note: “Nuclear Power Breakthrough Makes “Limitless” Energy Possible” was previously published in December 2022. It has since been updated to include the most relevant information available.

For a moment, imagine a world of limitless energy – one where energy is so abundant that everyone can power their homes and businesses for mere pennies.

These days, it’s tough to imagine a world like that. Last winter, the average U.S. heating bill was $1,000.

May 10, 2023

Exclusive: Bill Gates on the future of nuclear energy, AI

Posted by in categories: business, climatology, economics, nuclear energy, robotics/AI, sustainability

TerraPower, founded by billionaire and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in 2008, is opening a new nuclear power plant in Kemmerer, Wyoming. The plant will be the first of its kind, with the company hoping to revolutionize the nuclear energy industry in the U.S. to help fight climate change and support American energy independence.

“Nuclear energy, if we do it right, will help us solve our climate goals,” Gates told ABC News. “That is, get rid of the greenhouse gas emissions without making the electricity system far more expensive or less reliable.”

Gates met with ABC News’ chief business, economics, and technology correspondent Rebecca Jarvis in Kemmerer to talk about the project.

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