The US has made a major breakthrough in laser fusion technology, which could help the megapower combat China’s future energy dominance with its rare Earth metals.
Following recent experiments from the National Ignition Facility, it’s hoped that using laser fusion technology, it may be possible to control the fusion of atoms which would create similar conditions to those found in the Earth’s Sun.
While nuclear power works by splitting atoms, the idea is that the laser technology will fuse them together and create an ‘ignite’ type reaction. The recent test focused on igniting a tiny cylinder of gold called a hohlraum It was previously thought that plasma created by the fusion would interrupt the possibility of igniting the hohlraum and turning laser energy into fuel. However, Siegfried Glenzer’s team managed to ignite it and raise 669 kiloJoules of energy, far more than any previous tests.
Glenzer told BBC News that if that steady stream of power could be maintained, it could boil the contents of over 50 Olympic sized swimming pools in just one second.
The results are significant, says Dr Glenzer, because his team has discovered that plasma didn’t reduce the hohlraum’s ability to absorb the laser light.
With oil reserves running out and the world desperate for a new, sustainable energy – and China holding out on it’s rare Earth metals that could prove the answer – it’s good news for the US and the western world.