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IPFS News Link • Energy

NASA Detects Nuclear Fusion in Deuterated Metals Irradiated With Gamma Radiation

•, by Brian Wang

A metal such as erbium is loaded with deuterium atoms (aka deuterons) packing the fuel a billion times denser than in magnetic confinement (tokamak) fusion reactors. In the new method, a neutron source accelerates (heats) deuterons until they start colliding with a neighboring deuteron. This causes D-D fusion reactions. The neutrons were created through photodissociation of deuterons via exposure to 2.9+MeV gamma (energetic X-ray) beam. Upon irradiation, some of the fuel deuterons dissociate resulting in both the needed energetic neutrons and protons. They measured nuclear fusion reactions and they saw the production of even more energetic neutrons which is evidence of boosted fusion reactions or screened Oppenheimer-Phillips (O-P) nuclear stripping reactions with the metal lattice atoms.

Either reaction could be scalable to useful levels of power. The goal will be to create power systems for long-duration space exploration missions or in-space propulsion. It could be developed into electrical power or creating medical isotopes for nuclear medicine.

The metal lattice, loaded with deuterium fuel, is at room temperature overall but the new method creates an energetic environment inside the lattice where individual atoms reach equivalent fusion-level kinetic energies.