Researchers uncover untapped energy source in nuclear fusion plasma reaction
Nuclear fusion, the process of fusing two atomic nuclei together thus releasing large quantities of energy, is a power that the energy sector has long sought, but to little applicable avail. It is literally the power of the stars, but here on Earth it has been a struggle to try and contain such a fusion reaction, which requires extensive energy to create the magnetic fields necessary to contain the fusion plasma. This results in limited energy output since much of the energy created by the fusion reaction is utilized to run the very equipment that creates the magnetic fields that contain it.
However, Researchers at the University of Warwick's Centre for Fusion Space and Astrophysics and the UK Atomic Energy Authority's Culham Centre for Fusion Energy believe they have uncovered a way to finally make fusion energy viable. Using computer simulations that allow researchers to look inside a plasma reaction they have discovered what they have long pondered to be true: that the alpha particle waves researchers have observed and channeled on the exterior of a fusion reaction are also present within the reaction and increase in strength throughout the life of the reaction.
"These large scale computer simulations capture the plasma dynamics in unprecedented detail and have opened up an exciting new area," said University of Warwick researcher Professor Sandra Chapman.
If one could harness these waves within the plasma reaction, as well as those on the exterior that have traditionally been harnessed, they would have access to an abundance of electrical energy, finally making nuclear fusion energy efficient!
So what does this mean for the nuclear energy sector? As of now, nuclear fusion companies such as Canada's General Fusion and the secretive Trialpha Energy are pursuing fusion with the belief that within a few short years fusion energy will be a reality. This will create a new type of nuclear energy market, and current industry players exploiting nuclear fission, such as Exelon, Horizon Nuclear Power and General Electric Co., need to take note of this breakthrough and the coming fusion renaissance if they want to contend.