Jan 292010
 
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 A major hurdle to producing fusion energy using lasers has been swept aside, results in a new report show.

The controlled fusion of atoms – creating conditions like those in our Sun – has long been touted as a possible revolutionary energy source.

However, there have been doubts about the use of powerful lasers for fusion energy because the “plasma” they create could interrupt the fusion.

An article in Science showed the plasma is far less of a problem than expected.

The report is based on the first experiments from the National Ignition Facility (Nif) in the US that used all 192 of its laser beams.

Along the way, the experiments smashed the record for the highest energy from a laser – by a factor of 20.

Star power

Construction of the National Ignition Facility began at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1997, and was formally completed in May 2009.

The goal, as its name implies, is to harness the power of the largest laser ever built to start “ignition” – effectively a carefully controlled thermonuclear explosion.

Read more . . .

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