Is fusion reaction system an answer to energy crisis and global climate change?
About Us | Contact Us | E-Paper
Title :    Text :    Source : 

Is fusion reaction system an answer to energy crisis and global climate change?

Let’s hope that at least this time humans will act responsibly and end some problems rather than complicating the already messy world

Post by DR. AIJAZ HASSAN GANIE on Sunday, December 25, 2022

First slide

Scientists announced on Tuesday (13-12-2022) that they have for the first time produced more energy in a fusion reaction than was used to ignite it ­- a major breakthrough in the decades long quest to harness the process that powers the sun.

Nuclear Fusion reactions power the Sun and other stars. In a fusion reaction, two light nuclei (Deuterium and Tritium- isotopes of Hydrogen) merge to form a single heavier nucleus (Helium nucleus). Deuterium and Tritium are the most abundant element in the universe. Whereas all isotopes of hydrogen have one proton, deuterium also has one neutron and tritium has two neutrons.The process releases energy because the total mass of the resulting single nucleus is less than the mass of the two original nuclei. The leftover mass becomes energy. Einstein’s equation (E=mc2), according to which in part that mass and energy can be converted into each other. If scientists develop a way to harness energy from fusion in machines on Earth, it could be an important method of energy production.

Fusion can involve many different elements in the periodic table. However, researchers working on fusion energy applications are especially interested in the deuterium-tritium (DT) fusion reaction. DT fusion produces a neutron and a helium nucleus. In the process, it also releases much more energy than most fusion reactions.

Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California achieved the result, which is called net energy gain, the Energy Department said. Net energy gain has been an elusive goal because fusion happens at such high temperatures and pressures that it is incredibly difficult to control.The breakthrough will pave the way for advancements in the future of clean power, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and other officials said.“Ignition allows us to replicate for the first time certain conditions that are found only in the stars and the sun,″ Granholm told a news conference in Washington. “This milestone moves us one significant step closer to the possibility of zero-carbon abundant fusion energy powering our society.″ Fusion ignition is “one of the most impressive scientific feats of the 21st century, ″Granholm said, adding that the breakthrough “will go down in the history books”.White House science adviser Arati Prabhakar called the fusion ignition “a tremendous example of what perseverance really can achieve” and “an engineering marvel beyond belief.″

Proponents of fusion hope that it could one day offer nearly limitless, carbon-free energy and displace fossil fuels and other traditional energy sources. Producing energy that powers homes and businesses from fusion is still decades away. But researchers said the announcement marked a significant advance nonetheless. According to Professor Dennis Whyte- director of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a leader in fusion research the fusion energy systems available should be used to tackle climate change and energy security.” Another interesting thing about fusion reaction is that it produces enormous amounts of energy and heat and unlike other nuclear reactions, it doesn’t create radioactive waste.

 

This advancement in fusion reaction should not be used for capital- industry complex but should be used to save our mother nature-earth from climate change and a clean energy source which should be available to all the human kind. Another concern is that this advancement should not be exploited for Military-Industry complex but one should appreciate this scientific research.

Another very good news announce by Kim Budil, director of the Livermore that very significant hurdles to commercial use of fusion technology has been overcome because advances in recent years. The technology is likely to be widely used in “a few decades” rather than 50 or 60 years as previously expected said Kim.

Billions of dollars and decades of work have gone into fusion research that has produced exciting results.Previously, researchers at the National Ignition Facility, the division of Lawrence Livermore where the success took place, used 192 lasers and temperatures multiple times hotter than the center of the sun to create an extremely brief fusion reaction.The lasers focus an enormous amount of heat on a small metal can. The result is a superheated plasma environment where fusion may occur. Riccardo Betti, a professor at the University of Rochester and expert in laser fusion, said there’s a long road ahead before the net energy gain leads to sustainable electricity. He likened the breakthrough to when humans first learned that refining oil into gasoline and igniting it could produce an explosion.

One approach to fusion turns hydrogen into plasma, an electrically charged gas, which is then controlled by humongous magnets. This method is being explored in France in collaboration among 35 countries called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, as well as by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a private company. Last year the teams working on those projects on two continents announced significant advancements in the vital magnets needed for their work.

The recent advancements in fusion reaction systems from last year had provided a hope that the world’s two top problems- clean energy and energy crisis can be resolved to large extent in near future but again the human brain should let it go in positive direction rather than in some adverse situation. Let’s hope that at least this time humans will act responsibly and end some problems rather than complicating the already messy world.

(The Author Teaches at Department of Botany, University of Kashmir)

Latest Post