A new study has detailed how a laser-driven system can create "clean" nuclear reactions by drawing energy out of a hydrogen-boron fusion. This system does not generate nuclear waste and does not require radioactive fuel, and if everything goes according to plan, a prototype reactor could be ready for use within the next 10 years.
Hydrogen-boron fusion has long been considered by scientists as a way to produce nuclear reactions without any harmful waste, as it does not produce any neutrons, thereby eliminating the possibility of radioactivity. According to Science Alert, the fact that this technique requires temperatures about 200 times hotter than our sun's core has made it "out of reach" for researchers in the past. But as detailed in the new study published earlier this week in the journal Laser and Particle Beams, researchers were able to leverage super-strength laser bursts to generate such extreme temperatures and facilitate clean nuclear reactions by compressing hydrogen and boron nuclei.
"It is a most exciting thing to see these reactions confirmed in recent experiments and simulations," said University of New South Wales professor and lead researcher Heinrich Hora in a statement.
"Not just because it proves some of my earlier theoretical work, but they have also measured the laser-initiated chain reaction to create one billion-fold higher energy output than predicted under thermal equilibrium conditions."