Chinese scientists “hit gold” in a breakthrough in nuclear fusion

Nuclear fusion is the holy grail of energy production. If broken, technology can provide us with unlimited clean and cheap energy. But breaking it has been difficult to do so far. Many have announced breakthroughs in this area, there is even a alleged fusion competitionand yet the field never seems to make significant progress.

Now Chinese scientists in Shanghai are working on a project to reproduce the solar energy process with a relatively inexpensive approach and after a year of experiments, the technique proved promising, According to South China Morning Post.

“Our goal is to achieve sustainable synthesis,” said project leader Zhang Zhe of the Institute of Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing in a telephone interview with SCMP.

What does this new process consist of? Scientists fire powerful laser pulses at a small pair of narrow-edged gold cones that face each other and emit hydrogen plasma. The collision of these two hot gas streams, achieved at the right time and place, and in the right way, can lead to nuclear fusion.

How will this project be adapted for electricity generation? Well, according to Zhe, “the cones can be mass-produced and loaded like bullets into a machine that will rotate and fire like a Gatling pistol.”

Three relatively successful tests have been conducted so far by the Zhe team, and another is scheduled for next month. And although the work is not without a fair share of the challenges, initial results show that the theory works.

“We are progressing step by step,” Jae concluded. Could his team actually be the one to win the nuclear reaction race? Only time will tell.

The team’s results have so far been published in the local peer-reviewed journal Acta Physica Sinica.

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