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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Models Show Lasers Can Produce Energy Using Hydrogen-Boron as Fuel

Energy created by lasers could be the way of the future. Researchers have used models and they show that lasers can produce "cold" energy by nuclear fusion. A new generation of fast, powerful lasers makes this possible. To achieve fusion a short, carefully controlled pulse is required. The pulse target is hydrogen and boron. Creating neutrons is not the objective because they cause radioactivity.

The Australian research is duplicating what is going on at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the United States, but they are using deuterium-tritium fuel.

A single laser pulse can generate 500 times more electricity than all the power stations in the US. At first the research team did not believe hydrogen-boron fuel would work. However, models indicated that it was only ten times more difficult than deuterium-tritium. For it to work the laser pulse must be clean, that is, lasting only a million, millionth of a second. Optical energy is then converted to mechanical energy.

It is not commonly known but coal power stations actually emit radioactivity - it is a problem in Germany where they are considering burying polluted material. Producing energy by laser pulsing hydrogen-boron creates less radioactivity than using deuterium-tritium. Coal generation is very dirty compared to hydrogen-boron. The waste product is helium gas. Hydrogen-boron is also plentiful. Team leader Professor Hora say it could be some time before the research becomes reality.
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