Revolutionary circuit fires thousands of times without flaw
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An electrical circuit that should carry enough power to produce the long-sought goal of controlled high-yield nuclear fusion and, equally important, do it every 10 seconds, has undergone extensive preliminary experiments and computer simulations at Sandia National Laboratories' Z machine facility.
Z, when it fires, is already the largest producer of X-rays on Earth and has been used to produce fusion neutrons. But rapid bursts are necessary for future generating plants to produce electrical power from sea water. This had not been thought achievable till now.
Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory.
How does it work?
An automobile engine that fired one cylinder and then waited hours before firing again wouldn't take a car very far.
Similarly, a machine to provide humanity unlimited electrical energy from cheap, abundant seawater can't fire once and quit for the day. It must deliver energy to fuse pellets of hydrogen every 10 seconds and keep that pace up for millions of shots between maintenance — a kind of an internal combustion engine for nuclear fusion. That's so, at least, for the fusion method at Sandia National Laboratories' Z machine and elsewhere known as inertial confinement.
But, unable to produce fusion except episodically, the method has been overshadowed by the technique called magnetic confinement — a method that uses a magnetic field to enclose a continuous fusion reaction from which to draw power.
The electrical circuit emerging from the technological hills may change the balance between these systems. Tagged as "revolutionary" by ordinarily conservative researchers, it may close the gap between the two methods.