February 1, 2023

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They looked for the causes of failure, and found a way to increase the efficiency of the fusion reaction

They looked for the causes of failure, and found a way to increase the efficiency of the fusion reaction

| Astronomy/Physics

A group of American, British and Japanese researchers working at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) found that covering a cylinder containing hydrogen fuel with a magnetic coil increases the temperature of the fuel and It triples the efficiency of the reaction. This is another step towards a practical controlled thermonuclear reaction.

The National Ignition Facility opened in 2009. It is a research laboratory where a team of 192 lasers focuses beams of radiation onto a small capsule containing hydrogen, using inertial plasma confinement technology. This is an alternative to the well-known tokamak method of nuclear fusion. Already in 2014 from the system More energy than you put into it. However, last August, an energy yield of 1.3 megajoules was achieved and NIF scientists were reported to be closer to initiating a stable, self-sustaining thermonuclear reaction than anyone else. Since then, NIF experts have been trying to repeat their achievements, but they have not succeeded yet. Recently, for example, they discovered that ions in a fusion reactor behave differently than calculated.

A group of physicists from NIF, in search of the cause of the failure, analyzed old scientific papers and noticed something interesting in them. Some of them claimed that computer simulations showed that placing a fuel cylinder in a magnetic field should greatly increase energy output. So it was decided to check if this is really the case.

However, to conduct experiments, it was necessary to modify the cylinder itself. It is made of gold. Placing it in a strong magnetic field would create a strong electric current that would detonate the cylinder. So the scientists built a new cylinder made of an alloy of gold and tantalum. They also changed the fuel in the capsule from hydrogen to one of its isotopes, deuterium. Then they packed everything into a file and fired the lasers. Use of an external axial magnetic field of 26 Tesla […] Increasing the temperature of ions by 40% and producing neutrons by 3.2 timesWe read in Physical review letters.

Thermonuclear reaction nuclear fusion National Ignition Facility