Folks, let me introduce you to EMMA, or if you’d rather by her official name Electron Machine with Many Applications; otherwise known as a pocket-sized power plant that could fit in your basement and produce nearly unlimited amounts of nuclear energy.
Never mind relying on that electric company and their constant gouging of your wallet because with a little bit of thorium and EMMA you could power your home forever.
Okay so it isn’t that easy but you have to admit it is a pretty cool idea especially considering that by using thorium you wouldn’t have to worry about that silly meltdown problem or any radioactive waste to haul out to the curb come garbage day.
Tech-Buzz has the technical details for those of you with a serious DYI bent:
The miniature machine is lined with quadrupole magnets (magnets with four parts) in order to keep the particles in the beam focussed in a narrow region. It’s also a Fixed Field Alternating Gradient Accelerator (FFAG), meaning it has an alternating gradient quadrupolar magnetic field to constraint the beam to a ring. As the particles are accelerated, they tend to move in orbits of slightly larger radius, but they encounter highermagnetic fields further out. This keeps the particles confined in a narrow beam in the orbital ring. EMMA is in conjunction with a particle injector named ALICE. ALICE (no relation with the detector at LHC, CERN) produces copious amounts of electrons and then injects them into EMMA using an injector or ‘septum’ tube at an angle of 65 degrees to the ring, which accelerates them to prescribed energies and allows it to impinge on a Thorium target.
Further, EMMA could be used for medical purposes, as envisioned in the Particle Accelerator for Medical Application (or Pamela, don’t you love these abbreviations?) project. It will be used to focus on Cancer research.
Needless to say this is written with a little bit of tongue in cheek humor but the implications for this kind of fusion research holds a lot of promise for many types of needs, from medical research to actual power supply.
image courtesy of Neale Haynes/Reuters