Giant Laser Gun May Unleash Nuclear Fusion: Endless Supply of Power

May 30, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Government scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California are poised to reach the next frontier in science, by finally unleashing the limitless power of nuclear fusion using a giant laser gun. The same energy that powers the stars and the sun with brilliant light may one day provide the world with an endless supply of clean energy.

The whole concept of fusion energy sounds like science fiction, but scientists at the Livermore Laboratory have been seeking a source of endless power for nearly half a century.

Fusion energy produces no greenhouse gases and is a cleaner energy than fossil fuels or nuclear-fission-based energy. Unlike fossil fuels that will someday run out, fusion provides virtually unlimited energy.

The National Ignition Facility (NIF), houses the world’s largest laser that was certified to operate by the U.S. Department of Energy on March 27, 2009. Composed of 192 giant laser beams, the giant laser gun fills up an entire 10-story building the size of three football fields.

When it’s operational, sometime in 2010, the laser will deliver at least 60 times more energy than any previously developed lasers. The plan is to aim all of the lasers simultaneously at a BB-sized target filled with hydrogen gas.

When all 192 of the lasers set their sights on the tiny ball of hydrogen gas, it would be zapped with 2 million joules of juice, which has the potential to fuse or ignite the nuclei of the atoms of the hydrogen fuel, creating a thermonuclear reaction.

The success or failure of this groundbreaking experiment would form the basis for future decisions about nuclear fusion’s long-term potential as a safe, virtually unlimited energy source.

If the experiment is successful, scientists predict an explosion of a mini-sunfire inside the hydrogen ball, which has the capability of releasing more energy than contained in all 192 lasers at full capacity.

The Livermore Laboratory operates a unique visitors center at the National Ignition Facility, which offers a glimpse into a 1/10 scale model of the target chamber and NIF optics. Public tours can also be arranged to view the giant laser itself.


Photo Source: Credit is given to Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the Department of Energy under whose auspices this work was performed.


One Response to “Giant Laser Gun May Unleash Nuclear Fusion: Endless Supply of Power”

  1. Giant Laser Gun May Unleash Nuclear Fusion: Endless Supply of … : Science and Technology News on May 30th, 2009 12:17 pm

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