A collaboration of researchers from the University of Gothenburg and the University of Iceland have studied a new type of nuclear fusion process that’s quite different from the normal process. Nuclear fusion is a process where atoms melt together and release energy. By combining smaller atoms with larger ones, energy can be released.
"This is a considerable advantage compared to other nuclear fusion processes, which are under development at other research facilities, since the neutrons produced by such processes can cause dangerous flash burns," says Leif Holmlid, a retired Professor at the University of Gothenburg.
This new fusion process can occur in very small fusion reactors fueled by heavy hydrogen. It’s been shown that this process produces much more energy than is needed to start. Heavy hydrogen can be found all around us in ordinary water. Instead of handling the large, radioactive hydrogen used to power large reactors, this process could eliminate dangers involved in the old process.
“A considerable advantage of the fast heavy electrons produced by the new process is that these are charged and can, therefore, produce electrical energy instantly. The energy in the neutrons which accumulate in large quantities in other types of nuclear fusion is difficult to handle because the neutrons are not charged. These neutrons are high-energy and very damaging to living organisms, whereas the fast, heavy electrons are considerably less dangerous,” Holmlid said.
Smaller and simpler reactors can be built in order to harness this energy and make it viable for small power stations. The fast, heavy electrons decay very quickly, allowing for the production of quick energy.
If this type of fusion energy is made available for public use, there could be a great impact on the environment. This would produce environmentally friendly heating and electricity at a low cost. Since the fuel, water, can be found all around us, we would have no problem trying to generate the energy. Creating small-scale power stations all around the world can provide society with a great resource in producing clean energy.