According to researchers, we will be able to create fusion without the need for radioactive fuel elements. Recent advances in high-intensity lasers will soon conclude in the development of a new laser-driven technique, one that leaves no toxic radioactive waste.
Creating fusion energy through hydrogen-boron reaction is within reach, according to researchers. The design is championed by an Australian physicist and now several collaborators are working with him to iron out the remaining kinks.
Heinrich Hora from the University of New South Wales in Sydney and a team of international researchers believe that hydrogen-boron reactions are closer to reality than other scientific means, such as the deuterium-tritium fusion approach proposed by the U.S. Ignition Facility.
The researchers were able to achieve hydrogen-boron fusion by using two lasers in rapid bursts that apply specific non-linear forces to compress nuclei together. Previous methods of achieving fusion include heating fuel to the temperature of the Sun via high-strength magnets that control extremely hot plasmas inside a doughnut-shaped toroidal chamber.
According to the scientists, hydrogen-boron produces no neutrons and thus no radioactivity in its primary reaction. The energy produced by hydrogen-boron fusion converts directly into electricity, something that current power sources like gas, coal and nuclear energy can’t do.
However, the technique requires higher temperatures and densities which are 200 times hotter than the core of the sun.
Hora acknowledges there are several obstacles in the way of a fully working hydrogen-boron reactor, yet the physicist believes his design is compatible with recent technological breakthroughs.
Australian company, HB11 Energy, holds the patents for Hora’s ideas and its CEO, Warren Mckenzie is optimistic for a hydrogen-boron reactor being built within ten years.
“If the next few years of research don’t uncover any major engineering hurdles, we could have a prototype reactor within a decade,” he said.
The study was published in the journal, Laser and Particle Beams.
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