The physics world is currently arguing that fusion energy that is commercially viable has been on the horizon for the past eight decades. Agni Energy Inc., a Startup based in Washington has a plan for a fusion reactor and says that the company is way closer than just the horizon.
The present nuclear reactors use the fission process which emits energy with the breaking apart of atoms. However, fission produces radioactive by-products that need collection and subsequent storage. Fusion which happens to be the opposite of fission refers to joining together of atoms.
Fusion reactor releases energy by slamming atoms together. The problem is that scientists have been unsuccessful in creating a suitable fusion creator. If scientists manage to reach the horizon of fusion energy, the reactors would create a lot of energy than the fission process.
Fusion reactors use two methods to produce energy. First, they can heat plasma toextremely high temperatures with the use of laser or squeeze the plasma with the help of magnets to densities that are very high. However, the two methodsare coupled by numerous problems. For instance, beams require numerous energies while magnets may affect the stability of atoms.
However, with the new approach, it will be possible to apply both electrical and magnetic fields to make hybrid fusion equipment. The beam-target fusion hits a beam of atoms against a solid target causing the fusion of atoms from the beam and those from the target. The method also uses hydrogen because according to Hopkins, the lightest elements tend to produce the highest amount of energy.
Magnetic lenses help in stabilizing and exciting the atoms in the ion beam. Thus, when the beam hits the target, there is merging of the two types of hydrogen atoms which then emit high-energy neutrons that can then be used in heating water or powering wind turbines. Hopkins adds that the fusion also produces nontoxic helium and a little tritium which is a little radioactive but can also be reused as fuel.
The team working on the new approach says that it is possible to tweak atoms in the target and the beam by interfering with their spin polarization. According to Hopkins, tilting the spins allows the researchers to overcome the Coulomb barrier and reduces the extent at which atoms scatter thus increasing the collected energy.
However, not all people are convinced that the scheme will work. Donald Spong, a plasma physicist says that such a process can cause a low level of fusion reactions. Thus, collection of more energy than what is being put in seems hopeless because the scattering could be too high. However, Hopkins and his team remain optimistic.