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IPFS News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

NASA Doubles Down On Nuclear Fusion Ambitions

• by Jon LeSage via OilPri

The challenge here will be speeding up the development process and cutting down the huge costs for bringing fusion online as climate change mandates approach. A NASA research project may offer a pathway to making nuclear fusion commercial.

The space agency has been releasing results from testing "lattice confinement," which could transform production scale and bring costs way down for much-anticipated nuclear fusion energy. It may be able to remove, or at least reduce, a key barrier that has kept fusion years away from being deployed. 

NASA's lattice confinement method allows fusion-level kinetic energy to come together at room temperatures. Conditions sufficient for fusion are created within the metal lattice that's held at ambient temperature. The metal lattice is loaded with deuterium fuel, and through the new lattice confinement method, it creates an energetic environment inside the lattice where atoms can gain equivalent fusion-level kinetic energies. 

One of the clear differences with magnetic fusion reaction — which is the main methodology gaining support in the fusion community — is that it's dramatically more dense, which is how the reaction is triggered. A metal such as erbium can be loaded with deuterium atoms, packing the fuel a billion times denser than magnetic confinement (tokamak) fusion reactors. The new method 'heats' or accelerates deuterons sufficiently that when colliding with a neighboring deuteron, it causes D-D (deuterium-deuterium) fusion reactions.