Fusion energy could become a clean, reliable and almost infinite energy source – if the technical problems for their use were solved. In addition to state-financed coarse research institutions, there are now also numerous private companies in the development of fusion reactors. A German startup wants to win the race with a so far as an exotically traded concept: the laser fusion of protons and boron, reports Technology Review in its current ie (now on the kiosk or ordered online).
In Livermore, California, researchers have been trying since 2009 to tune laser fusion in a pellet with deuterium and tritium. They use the largest laser in the world: 192 rays transport within 15 nanoseconds an energy of 4.2 megajoules from all sides to a few millimeters rough goal. So far, however unsuccessful.
All the more amazing that Marvel Fusion, a small, German start-up, announced to build a demonstrator in ten years, which realizes what has not been successful so far. And more: Marvel Fusion also wants to use a particularly difficult path to fusion: To merge protons and boron, it takes ten times higher temperatures than for the Deuterium Tritium Fusion. But the method has a rough advantage: With a fusion of Bor-11 atoms and protons, no neutrons are free but only alpha particles. They are easier to shield, and can be used more directly for energy conversion.
Quantal mechanical tunnel effect
How should that go?? With a "highly innovative approach" says Karl-Georg Schlesinger, co-aging and leading scientists of Marvel Fusion. An extremely strong laser fires a very, very short pulse – focused on a stain that has only a few micrometer diameters. The target that contains the fuel is "not just a homogeneous squeezed ball but it has a very fine nanostructure on atomic scale," says Schlesinger. This ensures that the plasma caused by the laser body is put into a "highly correlated" state in which the fusion between the atomic nuclei is simplified by the quantum mechanical tunnel effect. A process that normally occurs in type 1a supernova explosions.
In fact, Russian physicists have succeeded in 2005 for the first time to tune such a proton boron fusion with the help of lasers in the laboratory. This sounds good, but is only half the rent – some mammals a small fusion flame that goes out after a few nanoseconds, because the alpha particles produced during the fusion are flying apart and carry their energy from the system. Marvel Fusion wants to solve this problem. However, the company can only deliver the final experimental receipt if the own test center with the high-performance laser needed for that is. That should be the case in three to five years.