Towards the Holy Grail of Unlimited Energy—Controlled Nuclear Fusion
Written by Dr Klaus L.E. Kaiser
Controlled Nuclear Fusion (CNF) is the term used for harnessing the energy of hydrogen bombs in a peaceful and, most importantly, controlled way. If mankind can achieve that goal then there would be an unlimited amount of energy available on Earth. You could forget wood, coal, oil, natural gas, and all other energy sources in one fell swoop. They would rapidly become meaningless as minor energy providers of a historic past. How so?
Below is the graph that shows the reason for that powerful force, namely the binding energy (BE) per nucleon (either a proton or neutron) in the nuclei of each of the approximately 100 natural elements. Not all elements are shown by way of their chemical symbols. Let’s focus on two of these, deuterium (a hydrogen isotope) and uranium. As you can see, especially H but also U BE values are lower than that of the mid-curve elements like iron (mass number 26). This graph is what I call one of the most important graphs ever created by mankind. It points to the future of energy generation, for all of mankind.
Theory or Reality?
Nuclear power is not just theory. Uncontrolled nuclear fission (like in atomic bombs) had been developed during WWII. The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan proved that beyond any doubt. However, mastering either controlled fission (the breakdown of uranium atoms) or controlled fusion (the combination of hydrogen atoms) have been the goal of nuclear energy research ever since.
Without doubt, nuclear fusion exists as well as nuclear fission. The radiative energy coming from the Sun to Earth is the byproduct of the constant nuclear fusions happenings there. Protuberances extending many thousands of miles beyond the sun’s surface are observed all the time. They result from the enormous amounts of energy released from these processes. Without such, the Earth would just be a frozen and dusty lump of matter in the universe.
Iter and Wendelstein
The goal to achieve controlled fusion (CF) has been in the works for several decades by now. France has built the fusion-reactor Iter at Cadarache in southern France and Germany is just about to finish construction of its Wendelstein 7-X reactor at Greifswald, Germany. Both reactors are designed to test various concepts of CF by attempting to fuse hydrogen (including its isotopes) nuclei into larger atoms under conditions that would allow use of the energy so set free.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
In the U.S., research on CF is also progressing. At the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) at Livermore, California, scientists recently undertook an experiment which is claimed to have produced more energy than was used to conduct it; a great achievement if proven true.
Of course, Russia, China and possibly other countries are also in the game. Whoever gets there first will be the winner; however, it could hardly be kept a secret for long. Just like the nuclear bomb technology proliferated, there would be great incentives offered to anyone able to provide critical insight.
The Path Forward
The path forward is strewn with many obstacles. Perhaps mankind will never achieve the goal of controlled fusion. The World Nuclear Association says “Fusion power offers the prospect of an almost inexhaustible source of energy for future generations, but it also presents so far insurmountable scientific and engineering challenges.”
In my opinion, mankind’s greatest hopes must encompass that goal. Too bad though that you will be hard pressed to find the graph shown above to be part of your offspring’s high school curriculum these days.
Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser Bio
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Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser is author of CONVENIENT MYTHS, the green revolution – perceptions, politics, and facts
Dr. Kaiser can be reached at:email@example.com