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Researchers Inch Closer to Limitless Laser-Powered Energy Source

A preamplifer chamber that increases the power of laser beams before they collide.
A laser amplifier chamber at the NIF. Damien Jemison/LLNL

Our Sun uses a process called “fusion” to produce more energy than it consumes. Scientists believe that replicating the fusion process on Earth with clean, non-nuclear components could provide a limitless source of power with minimal consequences. But what could we use to achieve such a feat? Well, lasers look like the best candidate.

Researchers at the LLNL’s National Ignition Facility are using 192 high-powered laser beams to blow up small gold capsules full of fusion fuel. The lasers vaporize the gold lining upon impact, producing X-Rays that explode the fusion fuel. (Using gold may seem a bit wasteful, but these capsules are the size of BB pellets.)

New experiments with this method reach 70% ignition, meaning that the process consumed 1.9 megajoules and produced 1.35 megajoules. If the LLNL can achieve 100% ignition and produce an excess of energy, then they will have successfully triggered the fusion process using lasers.

Because this ignition process is nearly instantaneous, researchers will need to find a way to produce blasts every 10 seconds. Doing so would produce a limitless supply of clean energy, a perfect answer to our strained electrical grids and excessive use of fossil fuels.

Source: Laurence Livermore National Laboratory via Engadget

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is the News Editor for Review Geek, where he covers breaking stories and manages the news team. He joined Life Savvy Media as a freelance writer in 2018 and has experience in a number of topics, including mobile hardware, audio, and IoT. Read Full Bio »