Tuesday, August 9, 2022
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UK makes 'stunning' nuclear fusion breakthrough in 'world first' step to limitless energy

Oxford-based company First Light Fusion (FLF) achieved the stunning reaction using a unique method at its laboratory in Kidlington. The projectile method is reportedly an easier and more efficient technique than other existing approaches to develop what has been referred to develop a fusion reaction. Usually, complex and expensive lasers or magnets are used to generate or maintain the conditions for fusion.

Fusion power can generate electricity by using heat from nuclear fusion reactions, the same process used by stars, leading it to be dubbed a Holy Grail energy source.

FLF’s technique compresses fuel inside a target using what is known as a projectile travelling at rapid speeds.

This managed to create a fusion reaction at a record rate of progress.

The company announced on Twitter: “We are delighted to announce that we have achieved fusion – a world-first with our unique new target technology.”

FLF co-founder and chief executive Dr Nick Hawker said the firm is on an “incredible journey of discovery”.

He even claimed that the company managed to make improvements to the process while results were getting validated by regulators.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority has in fact now independently validated the result.

Dr Hawker said: “It’s a fundamentally new way to go about fusion and it validates our simulations.

“If we can make this core process work, the majority of the rest of the power plant can be built with existing technology.

“So potentially it’s a much more rapid trajectory towards commercial fusion.”

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The company is now aiming to develop more nuclear fusion experiments.

This includes getting to the bottom of the currently unresolved challenge of nuclear fusion, which is how to produce more energy than it uses to create the reaction.

A key ambition is to build 150-megawatt pilot power plant in the 2030s.

It is partnering up with Swiss bank UBS to help develop the plant.

Professor Yiannis Ventikos, co-founder of First Light Fusion and head of UCL’s mechanical engineering department, said: “This pursuit of practical and affordable fusion will give us the clean and abundant baseload power that we so desperately need in our effort to address – and hopefully reverse – global warming.”



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