Pure energy from the fastest moving objects on earth

3 control room for machine

“You may want to cover your ears,” he said, looking at a screen bank that looked like a sub-version of NASA. I get some headphones.

Alarm siren sounds and computer noise counts the level of electricity in a special machine.

It was developed by First Light Fusion – an Oxford-based company that is trying to recreate the solar-powered response here.

Shortly after it is fully charged, the machine explodes 3 times and 9 million amps – equivalent to 300 lightning bolts – are stored at the size of your fingernails.

That electric spear accelerates a small aluminum disk used to generate electromagnetic energy at speeds of up to 20 km per second, making it one of the fastest moving objects ever invented by humans.

It is hard to imagine such a speed, but something moving fast can take a rocket from London to Paris in less than 20 seconds.

Machine 3 first light integration

Machine 3: The blue parts are capacitors that store the charge needed to speed up the project

The aluminum disc isn’t going too far, though – it was launched at a distance of 10mm through a special target through a vacuum.

The exact location, size, and internal structure of the target, however, are a mystery. That is why the first light spends many years and millions of pounds, providing a design that is designed to fall, shattering a small amount of fuel foam under high pressure and heat.

how? This is because under sufficient pressure, you can mix that fuel (hydrogen isotopes) called helium isotopes into helium.

During that process, neutrons, called fast-moving particles, are produced and their energy can be absorbed and this is an important bit, it is converted into heat, which can be used to generate electricity.

Don’t worry if all this chemistry and physics are a little confusing, the main point is that producing energy in this way will be a big breakthrough for the industry.

Fusion only requires relatively little fuel. Fusion also does not emit any greenhouse gases and eliminates the small amount of radioactive waste that makes current nuclear power plants less popular.

Nicholas Hawker: “What this means for civilization is as important as moving from wood to fossil fuels … or from fossil fuels to renewable energy. This is a new unlimited source of energy, ”said Nicholas Hacker, co-founder and CEO of First Light.

Prototype target

You can see the bubble holding the fuel in this prototype target on the left – the bubble on the right is a reflection

Demand for such a clean energy source has increased during the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, which begins October 31.

Due to the high temperature and pressures required, the friction is difficult to maintain and maintain.

Mr. Hawker thinks that the first light is too close to achieve integration in the machine. But as a typical scientist, Mr. Hawker does not want to predict exactly when that will happen, and he wants to examine any results carefully.

Despite that remarkable achievement, there is at least a decade of work before the first light reactor can be used to sustain the process and generate heat.

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But Mr. Hawker is sure his team will get there. “It’s not imaginary,” he says.

I really think we have low-risk, low-cost, highly scalable, highly scalable technology, and that’s it.

After their current machines are integrated, the next step is to build a machine that can produce more energy than it uses – called “profit”.

That requires a higher speed, perhaps a more powerful machine that can reach speeds of up to 50 km / h.

Those who hope to be tested in the 2030s hope to have that race within ten years.

Dr. Nick Hawker, Founder of First Light Fusion

“It’s not a fantasy,” says Nicholas Foundation, founder of the First Foundation

Mr. Hawker acknowledged that although there are engineering challenges, at least, they can still achieve their goal by shooting their high-speed project over long distances.

“We don’t know if he is a showman, but the most difficult challenge is engineering. Launch the project exactly as required. This is the biggest engineering challenge for us. ”

Competitors

The merger is running dozens of other companies that are developing their own technologies to get the job done.

Here in the UK, Tokakam Energy draws attention to its growth. Instead of firing, a project heats the fuel to a higher temperature and then captures the plasma, which contains powerful magnetic fields, in a device called a tomak.

Arthur Tourel has a PhD in Plasma Physics and describes the integration process.

Tourel appreciates the work of private companies such as First Light and Tokama Energy, but points out that they are not very sophisticated in the field.

“Fusion companies are really doing exciting things, and they are getting a decade of growth in public laboratories. But none of them had anything to do with the situation in the public laboratories. It does not mean victory. ” But they are not there yet, ”he said.

NIF This color-coded large foot ”deuterium-tritium (DT) implosion  Taken on February 7, 2016.

The National Flames Institute in California burns laser on fuel pellets

In August, for example, the National Institutes of Energy (NIF) in California made a major breakthrough by initiating a merger response of 70% of the energy required for the initial response.

The NIF focuses on high-intensity laser beams to generate conditions for assembly, and Mr. Tourel thinks it is only a matter of time before they begin to receive more energy than they can handle.

While large-scale merger projects are at the forefront, for now, it makes sense for more players to develop their own technologies to address such a dilemma, Mr Hawker said.

“In the end, we don’t know what to do with the business. So people who explore many different options, [means] We have a much better chance of hitting what works.

Follow Ben Morris, business editor technology Twitter.

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