Small-scale hot fusion devices similar in size and capability to low energy nuclear reaction units such as Andrea Rossi’s ecat could be possible. A professor at New Jersey’s Princeton University is working on a hot fusion reactor that would be about the size of a hot tub.
Bruce Koel has built a reactor that regularly reaches temperatures up to 11 million degrees centigrade that is small enough to fit into a laboratory down the hall from his office. Koel’s process uses a thin metal lining that is made of lithium. The lithium apparently soaks up the heat and keeps stray particles (and radiation in). The fusion process is taking place in a small room.
Koel is a professor of chemical and biological engineering with an expertise in surface chemistry. He is trying to develop new substances that would allow a sustained reaction. The most exciting thing about his work is its size. Unlike ITER his reactor is actually small enough for practical use. Most hot fusion plans call for giant reactors to make plasma that would be similar in size to nuclear power plants. Koel’s work seems to indicate that small scale hot fusion could be possible and practical.
The long term benefit of this could be hot fusion reactors small enough to use as furnaces, hot water heaters and power sources for steam engines. These reactors could even be used on ships or planes or in household heating systems and generators. In other words this could lead to a hot fusion reactor that would be a lot like Andrea Rossi’s ecat.
Other uses could be in industry where they could replace coal fired smelters in steel mills and foundries or as power sources for space ships and probes. This could also lead to fusion units that are small enough and practical enough for small scale research. In other words the fusion research of the future could be done in the garage or the backyard.
Koel is working at the US Department of Energy’s Princeton Particle Physics Lab or PPPL. The lab is located at Princeton University one of America’s Ivy League Schools which is in Princeton, New Jersey, near Philadelphia.
An exciting part of this work is its small scale. The work is being done by Koel and two grad students. That means it’s economical and sustainable unlike a lot of the big science out there. This summer Koel hopes to expand his team by adding another grad student.
Simulator “Proves” that Hot Fusion is Practical
Interestingly enough Koel is not the only Department of Energy scientist whose work indicates hot fusion is possible. The LiveScience Blog indicates that a computer simulation done at the Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico indicate that a self sustaining hot fusion reaction can be created by using a process called magnetized inertial fusion. This method uses a magnetic field to contain the plasma. The field is strong enough to fuse deuterium and tritium together and create fusion.
There’s no word on whether this process has been tested in the real world yet or not. A full scale test for a device that could do it the Z machine is apparently scheduled for next year. If this is true it could mean that scientists could test fusion in the future with computer simulations. That would make research cheaper and more practical.
It looks like the fusion age is about to begin folks. The question is not if fusion is coming but who will perfect it first. It’s also entirely possible that we’ll see both hot and cold fusion units operating in our communities and quite possibly our homes in just a couple of decades.