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The US and UK Join Forces and Lasers to Create Nuclear Fusion Energy

Posted By Molly Cotter On September 9, 2011 @ 6:58 pm In News,Renewable Energy | No Comments

AWE, NIF, National Ignition Facility,Rutherford Appleton Lab, nuclear, nuclear fusion, lasers, laser energy, nuclear energy, laser nuclear fusion energy, alternative energy

Scientists at the United State’s National Ignition Facility [1] (NIF) are currently working on unlocking the key to nuclear fusion power by zapping atoms with giant lasers – and the project just got a major show of support from companies and laboratories the UK. The Rutherford Appleton Lab [2] and the british company AWE have announced that they will join forces with the US to make this sustainable energy source a reality.

AWE, NIF, National Ignition Facility,Rutherford Appleton Lab, nuclear, nuclear fusion, lasers, laser energy, nuclear energy, laser nuclear fusion energy, alternative energy [3]

For those of us who need a science class refresher, nuclear fusion and fission are very different things. The nuclear plants [4] that operate today use fission, the splitting of heavy atoms to create energy. Nuclear fusion [5] is the slamming together of two light atoms to create much more energy. Think about the energy produced by an atomic bomb [6] versus the energy produced by the sun [7].

In a meeting this week sponsored by the Institute of Physics, the Rutherford Appleton Lab announced their collaborative experiments [8] with NIF’s lasers, which happen to include the largest one in the world. Scientists essentially fire hundreds of lasers [9] at tiny pellets of hydrogen to compress the atoms. The energy, in the form of heat [10], can be captured and used.

Fusion technology has been in the works for many years. However its one fatal flaw is that no fusion reactor [11] has been able to produce more energy than it consumes. The recent experiment finally did, for a tiny fraction of a second. If and when this technology [12] is perfected (which scientists are now predicting will be a matter of a few years), the US and the UK will be at the forefront of alternative energy, creating miniature stars [13] on earth.

+ National Ignition Facility [14]

+ Rutherford Appleton Laboratory [15]

Via BBC News [16]

lead image courtesy of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory [17]

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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/the-us-and-uk-join-forces-and-lasers-to-create-nuclear-fusion-energy/

URLs in this post:

[1] National Ignition Facility: http://inhabitat.com/worlds-largest-laser-a-step-closer-to-fusion-energy/

[2] Rutherford Appleton Lab: http://inhabitat.com/cella-energy-announces-emission-free-gas-for-1-50-per-gallon/

[3] Image: http://inhabitat.com/the-us-and-uk-join-forces-and-lasers-to-create-nuclear-fusion-energy/laser-nuclear-fusion-energy3/

[4] nuclear plants: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/abnormal-operating-procedures-in-effect-at-indian-point-nuclear-plant-no-damage-found/

[5] Nuclear fusion: http://inhabitat.com/worlds-largest-laser-to-attempt-nuclear-fusion/

[6] atomic bomb: http://inhabitat.com/old-military-planes-repurposed-to-drop-900000-tree-bombs-a-day/

[7] sun: http://inhabitat.com/sun-tracker-skylights-pump-daylight-indoors/

[8] experiments: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/bmw-guggenheim-lab-opens-hosts-free-urban-experiments-in-nycs-east-village-exclusive-photos/

[9] lasers: http://inhabitat.com/bmw-to-make-laser-headlights-twice-as-efficient-as-leds-and-1000-times-stronger/

[10] heat: http://inhabitat.com/researchers-develop-a-heat-pump-that-can-last-10000-years/

[11] fusion reactor: http://inhabitat.com/new-nuclear-reactors-may-almost-completely-destroy-atomic-waste/

[12] technology: http://inhabitat.com/3-d-printing-technology-appeals-to-our-sweet-side-with-chocolate/

[13] miniature stars: http://inhabitat.com/200-solar-powered-leds-light-up-nycs-hudson-river-for-reflecting-the-stars/

[14] + National Ignition Facility: https://lasers.llnl.gov/

[15] + Rutherford Appleton Laboratory: http://www.stfc.ac.uk/About+STFC/51.aspx

[16] BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14842720

[17] Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: https://www.llnl.gov/

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