Radical Hydrogen-Boron Reactor Leapfrogs Current Nuclear Fusion Tech

Radical Hydrogen-Boron Reactor Leapfrogs Current Nuclear Fusion Tech


HB11 Energy, a spin-out company originating at the University of New South Wales, claims its hydrogen-boron fusion technology is already working a billion times better than expected. Along with this announcement, the company also announced a swag of patents through Japan, China and the USA protecting its unique approach to fusion energy generation. New Atlas reports: The results of decades of research by Emeritus Professor Heinrich Hora, HB11’s approach to fusion does away with rare, radioactive and difficult fuels like tritium altogether — as well as those incredibly high temperatures. Instead, it uses plentiful hydrogen and boron B-11, employing the precise application of some very special lasers to start the fusion reaction. Here’s how HB11 describes its "deceptively simple" approach: the design is "a largely empty metal sphere, where a modestly sized HB11 fuel pellet is held in the center, with apertures on different sides for the two lasers. One laser establishes the magnetic containment field for the plasma and the second laser triggers the ‘avalanche’ fusion chain reaction. The alpha particles generated by the reaction would create an electrical flow that can be channeled almost directly into an existing power grid with no need for a heat exchanger or steam turbine generator."
HB11’s Managing Director Dr. Warren McKenzie clarifies over the phone: "A lot of fusion experiments are using the lasers to heat things up to crazy temperatures — we’re not. We’re using the laser to massively accelerate the hydrogen through the boron sample using non-linear forced. You could say we’re using the hydrogen as a dart, and hoping to hit a boron , and if we hit one, we can start a fusion reaction. That’s the essence of it. If you’ve got a scientific appreciation of temperature, it’s essentially the speed of atoms moving around. Creating fusion using temperature is essentially randomly moving atoms around, and hoping they’ll hit one another, our approach is much more precise." He continues: "The hydrogen/boron fusion creates a couple of helium atoms. They’re naked heliums, they don’t have electrons, so they have a positive charge. We just have to collect that charge. Essentially, the lack of electrons is a product of the reaction and it directly creates the current."
The lasers themselves rely upon cutting-edge "Chirped Pulse Amplification" technology, the development of which won its inventors the 2018 Nobel prize in Physics. Much smaller and simpler than any of the high-temperature fusion generators, HB11 says its generators would be compact, clean and safe enough to build in urban environments. There’s no nuclear waste involved, no superheated steam, and no chance of a meltdown. "This is brand new," Professor Hora tells us. "10-petawatt power laser pulses. It’s been shown that you can create fusion conditions without hundreds of millions of degrees. This is completely new knowledge. I’ve been working on how to accomplish this for more than 40 years. It’s a unique result. Now we have to convince the fusion people — it works better than the present day hundred million degree thermal equilibrium generators. We have something new at hand to make a drastic change in the whole situation. A substitute for carbon as our energy source. A radical new situation and a new hope for energy and the climate."

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February 21, 2020 at 09:15PM