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Tiny Starbursts – Clean Green Energy

The Green Energy of Creating an Artificial Sun

NIF-National-Ignition-Fac-001Completed and operational in May, the $3.5 billion home to the National Ignition Facility (NIF), was initially funded 15 years ago as a way to better understand the aging process of nuclear weapons. Now, researchers in this gigantic 10 story Livermore, California facility are taking the first steps towards an era of clean, almost limitless energy.

Hydrogen, the fuel needed for fusion reactions, is among the most abundant of elements in the universe. Under such extreme conditions, which are found only in the core of stars, the hydrogen atoms will fuse, producing helium and vast amounts of energy.

Scientists will use the world’s most powerful laser to create 192 separate beams of laser light that concentrates 1,000 times the electric generating power of the United States, racing at a million miles an hour, into a five billionths of a second burst to ignite a tiny man-made star inside a laboratory. With a goal to generate temperatures of more than 100 million degrees Celsius and pressures billions of times higher than those found anywhere else on earth, from a tiny frozen pellet of hydrogen fuel about the size of a grain of rice.

NIF-National-Ignition-Fac-006Why? To create fusion reactions that release more energy than it takes to produce them. Marking the first step towards building a practical nuclear fusion power station and a source of almost limitless energy.

NIF is not only has the world’s largest laser, but also the largest optical instrument ever built. This potassium dihydrogen phosphate (KDP) crystal, weighing almost 800 pounds (360kg), acts as the laser optic. It was produced through a newly developed rapid-growth process that takes only two months, as opposed to two years using conventional methods. Each crystal is sliced into 40cm-square crystal plates. More than 600 of these plates are needed.

The target chamber is a 10m-diameter sphere, installed in June 1999, weighs 287,000 pounds (137,000kg).

NIF-National-Ignition-Fac-007There’s a laser glass slab in a line replaceable unit (LRU), (a large metal frame that holds various types of lenses, mirrors or glass), that can be easily installed in a beamline or removed for maintenance. This glass slab LRU will be installed between two flashlamp cassettes that fire as the laser beam passes through, causing the beam to pick up energy from the specially treated glass on its way to the target chamber.

The facility will gradually work up to full power over the next 12 months or so, but experiments are scheduled to run until around 2040.

I am not a big proponent of nuclear power because of it’s inherent dangers, both to the Earth and her creatures. However, if wisdom prevails to develop absolute fail-safe safety precautions, then this process can evolve into a sound energy alternative.

…. as the green future unfolds…

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No Responses to “Tiny Starbursts – Clean Green Energy”

  1. corrin Says:

    Wow – the technology just blows my mind. And I agree with you – while not a proponent of nuclear power, I think the technology can eventually be used for good.
    .-= corrin´s last blog ..Kitchen Scissors =-.

  2. Karen Says:

    It is a shame that the technology is soooo expensive. It is worth it though.

  3. Wilson Pon Says:

    Linda, with the development of artificial sun, it’s possible for the human being to use the technology and convert the cool planet, such as Titan, one of the Saturn’s moon into a better living place!

    Note: Titan has been recognized as one of the few planets that have plenty of ice cover on its surface. All the scientists have to do is creating an artificial sun to melt down the ice surface and turn it into the “Second Earth”.

  4. Linda Says:

    Hi Wilson Pon … I don’t know about Titan, isn’t its oceans methane not H20? One spark and Saturn has it’s own orbiting sun! I think Europa, a moon of Jupiter would be a better bet. 🙂

  5. Cady Says:

    Wow, that’s so neat. Like Corrin said, technology these days just blows the mind.

  6. Barbara Says:

    Wow, I hope they move forward with using this technology. I agree with you, we need to look at all options!
    .-= Barbara´s last blog ..Relax With Barbara On Wednesday 54 =-.

  7. Luc J Says:

    Let’s hope that this will work – preferably before 2040!

    This would mean an era of abundant and green energy, but also peace – one of the main reasons for war would be eliminated!
    .-= Luc J´s last blog ..Secure USB Flash Drive – Personal Pocket Safe =-.

  8. Linda Says:

    Hi Cady … it is so amazing what is coming about and how we get to see the beginning!

    Hi Barbara … They are moving forward but need bucks too!

  9. Linda Says:

    Hi Luc J … You bet your sweet bippy!

  10. Earth friendly Goodies Says:

    I agree this is one of those technologies that sends chills of hope down my spine, however it seems the dangers are potentially very high. Other than the possibility of blowing up the whole earth in a bad chain reaction (I say that tongue in cheek but still it is a risk) what are the dangers associated with this? Are there waste components to worry about similar to traditional nuclear power plants?
    .-= Earth friendly Goodies´s last blog ..Simply Sexy Terra Verde Bamboo Cutting Board =-.

  11. Linda Says:

    Hi Earth Friendly … Not that I am aware of. However, there is a chance that I am wrong so I will do some more research and let you know.

  12. Maureen Says:

    Wow, that is interesting….
    .-= Maureen´s last blog ..Multiple Streams of Income: Blessing or Curse? =-.

  13. Linda Says:

    Hi Maureen … Gets ya thinking, right?

  14. ConnieFoggles Says:

    I’m always learning something new from your blog. Your research on topics shows in your detailed posts.
    .-= ConnieFoggles´s last blog ..IzeaFest 2009 Networking Top Ten Tips =-.

  15. Linda Says:

    Hi Connie … Thank you! We aim to please here at Forced Green. 😀

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