Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Jan 27

An Artificial Sun on Earth

Posted in Energy Inventions | Future Technology | Solar Power

Man Made Star It is science’s star experiment: an attempt to create an artificial sun on earth — and provide an answer to the world’s impending energy shortage. Scientists believe that this can’t be achieved for the next hundred years, but having your own sun for energy need is not an impossible dream! Maybe in future we can solve energy crisis by developing our own artificial sun. Scientists have been trying to harness nuclear fusion since Albert Einstein had derived the equation E=mc² in 1905. This equation raised the hope that fusing atoms together could release incredible amounts of energy. If Einstein’s theory is put to practical use, the amount of energy locked up in one gram of matter is enough to power 28,500 100-watt lightbulbs for a year.


Scientists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in Livermore, situated amidst the wine-producing vineyards of central California, will use a laser that concentrates 1,000 times the electric power of the United States generates into a billionth of a second. This will lead to an explosion in the 32ft-wide reaction chamber which will produce at least 10 times the amount of energy used to create it.

The scientists will perform the experiment inside a structure that will cover an area the size of three football pitches. A single infrared laser will be sent through almost a mile of lenses, mirrors and amplifiers to create a beam more than 10 billion times more powerful than a household light bulb.

This hanger-sized room will contain no dust so that impurities can’t get into the path of the beam. This laser beam will be split into 192 separate beams and then converted into ultraviolet light. Finally ultraviolet light will be focused into the centre of a capsule. The inner wall of this capsule has an aluminum and concrete-coated target chamber. When the laser beams strike the inner walls of the capsule, high-energy X-rays will be generated within a few billionths of a second. This activity will create the compressed fuel pellet inside until its outer shell blows off. This explosion is a very crucial step. This explosion of the fuel pellet shell produces an equal and opposite reaction that compresses the fuel itself together until nuclear fusion begins, releasing vast amounts of energy. Scientists have already spent 11 years in development work. They want the last of the lenses and mirrors for the laser to be put in place but this will be easier said than done. The tiresome task of adjusting and aiming the laser could take up to a year before they can successfully achieve fusion. Because the targeting should be right otherwise the experiment will not work. Of course creating the conditions existing inside the sun will be no mean feat!

In the coming spring, scientists will try to activate a tiny man made star that will imitate sun by setting off a thermonuclear reaction. This will generate more than 100 million degrees Celsius temperature and the amount of pressure will be billions of times higher than those found anywhere on the earth. All this can be accomplished from a speck of fuel little bigger than a pinhead! This step will lead to building up of nuclear fusion power stations and no dearth of energy for humankind.

In the spring, a team will begin attempts to ignite a tiny man-made star inside a laboratory and trigger a thermonuclear reaction. They will need hydrogen for fusion reaction and the earth and universe have plentiful supply of hydrogen. The whole experiment will cost £1.2 billion! “We are creating the conditions that exist inside the sun,” Ed Moses, director of the facility, stated. “It is like tapping into the real solar energy as fusion is the source of all energy in the world. It is really exciting physics, but beyond that there are huge social, economic and global problems that it can help to solve.”

  • Thomas Schlotterbeck

    I will believe it when I see it if I’m still alive.

  • Mark

    Didn’t Doctor Octavius already try this in Spiderman 2?

  • Troy

    I don’t think one central nuclear power source is a good idea at all. There will be constant strife over who owns or controls the ball and it could be used to destroy the Earth 🙁 It doesn’t take a genius to watch kids in a park play with one ball or one favorite toy… someone always ends up crying.

  • perry

    I am not convinced that this technology is so distant. 10 years ago the Australians managed to get more energy out than was put into a fusion reaction using lasers and complex polymers. It only lasted milli-seconds but shows what is possible.

    Now the JET (Joint European Torus) project has been handed to the French for industrialization after the UK has produced the necessary enabling technologies. When started it was estimated 30 years to produce the needed technologies and another 30 before the first power plants are seen.

    Love it or loathe it, we need something of this nature because our requirement for energy is increasing exponentially whereas the green alternatives can only go so far because the land area they occupy is finite. If you assume exponential growth it quickly becomes energy or food or living space (or even air if we cover enough of the oceans to affect plankton levels)?

  • Allan

    40 years ago a bright guy described to me something very close to what these scientists are doing. He suggested suspending the fuel in a major magnetic field created inside a hollow ball made of the magnet segments, and spinning the fuel, just as the sun spins. His laser beam would also be contained in a hollow ball, with the inside of the ball having mirrors “tuned” to move the laser beam from one to the other, building up energy and velocity, which is then directed inside the magnet ball and hitting the fuel.

    These are my memories of what he said, and may not be totally accurate, but they might interest someone, so I am posting it here.

  • Karen

    Seems a little odd that we can’t even develop technology to use the one sun that we already have (properly distanced from our Earth) to meet our energy needs. Now, they want to develop a sun, ON our planet …. and they think they can control that amount of power ….. why? What do they do if it’s more than they can handle? Say, OOPS?

  • guest

    Nuclear power produces nuclear waste!
    That is hardly a green thing to do.

  • Bhalaji

    Its not an easy task to carry huge explosive fuel safely to the desired area…….

  • connor

    This is quite different from normal nuclear power. it is green. normal nuclear power is fission, this is the opposite. and to Karen, containment is not an issue, the problem is getting the fusion process working. The sun is just a metaphor, they are not creating a sun, but rather a self-sustaining fusion reactor. The sun simply creates energy the same way but on a much, much larger scale. There is a prototype reactor called the ITER currently being built in southern France by the U.S. EU japan and others that is able to produce 550MW of power with little environmental effects.

  • Raysor

    Well if we say they really make a tiny sun, isn’t that a bad thing? I mean when the sun “ends” or what to call it, don’t they say it will take the earth with it? If we now then make a tiny sun and they cant hold it what will happen? Doesn’t sound too safe.

  • hihii

    As connor very accurately explained, we’re not talking about a sun here. The fusion reactor is something like the core of the sun, though colder, but so small that it can be contained inside a building. Just like today’s fission reactors.

    Actually fission and fusion reactions are both what can happen inside a nuclear weapon: Lots of energy is released. The key in both energy technologies is to keep the reaction slow. However, talking about dangers and wastes, the half-life for fusion waste will be about 13 years, while that of fission-waste is about 10000 years. Consider accident situations!

    hihii

  • just watching

    It rises in the East every day! Spend the money on solar panels and wind turbines and stop wasting time!!!

  • Davo

    Fusion radiation is contained, unlike fission. It has 70% mass to energy conversion. that is 30% helium as the byproduct. And the half life for radiation is much shorter at 150 years though much more dangerous in the first 50 than fission waste.
    > no nuclear waste
    > hydrogen most likely made on site and uses very little (mass to energy)
    > without the equipment to sustain the fusion it will stop. unless its about the size of our sun

    They’re not stupid when they say its a good green solution for the future.

  • conner

    I believe that creation of such a thing would only bring us closer to the destruction of our planet. The risk far out ways the benefit.

  • nate

    Great idea, for every ying there is a yang. The magnetic forces from this project are suppose to be greater than any other magnetic force on earth.

    Well, lets do some abstract reasoning.

    If one great country builds this successfuly, every great country must have one of their own to be non-dependent. If every major country has one. What effect will the magnetic fields have on our oceans tides and sea and land life. How do we know it will not cause insect problems which rely on the earth’s magnetic fields. The buildings that houses these suns may be covered up with geese in the winter time who rely on magnetics.

    Now if it is possible to build this sun, it will never be the sole source of electricity for national security reasons. Every country will have their weapons pointed at their enemy’s solar sun, which means our energy must come from more than one location or source. And we would have to have antimissile weapons position to guard our chief source of energy. So there is a possibility that a great country would have several suns or other alternative energy sources since relying on one is not wise.

    How about this. For every great tool that has been invented. It has been used to destruct. Engines made for tranportaton eventually led to army tanks, guns made for killing food eventually led to killing people. If we can make lasers to ignite hydrogen therefore creating more energy than was put in it, we can then use this elevated energy to propel a bigger laser to take out other countries. So that would be the race after inventing the solar sun for our energy needs.

  • Davo

    like i said, they’re not stupid. they wouldnt spend billions if it was no better than fission. magnetic fields can be contained as well by concentrating it. they say our earth has a huge magnetic field yet it barely spins a needle. and there will always be many sources of energy for many reasons. better than 30+ billion tons of co2 each year.

  • mark

    While I would like wind/solar to take off this is an amazing technology and we shouldn’t let the fact that it is complicated and potentially dangerous stop us. We just need to make sure it is done right, it will save the world.

  • anthony

    To allan, # 5. I am very interested in this. I have been thinking of a similar idea for a few years now. A magnetic core that produces energy that will run off of it self, the positive and negative attraction and opposing. In which a way that will give no waste. I would like to know more of what you have to say. Email me antbgordon[AT]yahoo.com

  • John

    I think they are approaching this whole thing (fusion) the wrong way (via lasers). They are trying to kill a ‘mosquito’ with a ‘grenade’, when all they really need is a ‘fly-swatter’.

    Fusion is the joining of the nuclei of two or more atoms. The nuclei contains >99.9+% of the mass, but almost no volume. The majority of the volume is occupied by the ‘electron cloud’. The ‘electron cloud’ keeps the nuclei apart, and gives what is known as the Bohr radius (the distance between the nuclei, maintained by the electron cloud repulsion and the attraction of the respective nuclei).

    The best approach to fusion would be to eliminate the electron cloud, thus eliminating the Bohr radius repulsions (rather than smacking them so hard that they finally whack into each other).

    The best way to eliminate the electron cloud is with a device that is at the core of a ‘PET’ (Positron Emission Tomography) scanner (medical device found in many hospitals). It is the Positron generator (the anti-particle to the electron).

    Using the Positron generator to eliminate the electron cloud (positrons and electrons act as waves, and ‘cancel’ each other out when they come in contact)of a sample insulated from electron flow would initiate fusion within the sample. You would have your ‘mini sun’ with the resultant controlled energy release. The energy release is not from particle and anti-particle collisions, but rather the resultant fusion that simultaneously occurs with the particle annihilations. I dare any physicist to try this test and prove me wrong! Fusion is possible with current technology!

  • Elliott Bettman MD

    Boy I’d like to smell Achminedjad’s shorts (not really) the day fusion comes in. The other OPECkers Mexico and the Texas oilmen too!

    Catalytic cold fusion with palladium should be tried. They are putting a square peg in a round hole here. Maybe a warp one spaceship could harness a quasar and beam it back as a laser.

  • MDK

    To John
    Eliminating the electron cloud with a Positron Emission Tomography scanner is not possible the scanner only eliminate the electron cloud on a very basic level.

  • Bala Jitendra

    Hi Friends,

    When we are thinking of creating Artificial sun, why to wait for so long years?
    Here are some of my inputs want to share with you:
    1. Why dont we create an Artificial Sun without following Nuclear Fission or Nuclear Fusion process?
    2. First we can create a sun like body, which is rotating and revolving around the earth like moon and works only at nights.
    This can be possible of keeping a body and maintaining its position on the space, such that it absorbs sun’s radiation and will use it turning into light at the nights.
    If we are succeeding in this, we can save huge amount of electricity in forms of lights.
    Also, it is helpful if we keep our artificial sun (working with Solar Energy) emits O3(Ozone) as the by-product.
    In this manner, we can protect our environment and also can avoid nuclear powers to control on Mankind.

    Please correct me, if anything above of my points goes wrong.

    Thank you one and All

  • Shara Bingham Mills

    No kidding Karen. That’s stupid man for you. These men should be separated to corners way far apart from each other.

  • Vytautas Baublys

    I am 5 years late to reply, but how do you transfer electricity from something that is orbiting the earth to earth..?


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