Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Z produces fusion neutrons, Sandia scientists confirm

07.04.2003


Huge pulsed power machine enters fusion arena



Throwing its hat into the ring of machines that offer the possibility of achieving controlled nuclear fusion, Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine has created a hot dense plasma that produces thermonuclear neutrons, Sandia researchers announced today at a news conference at the April meeting of the American Physical Society in Philadelphia.

The neutrons emanate from fusion reactions within a BB-sized deuterium capsule placed within the target of the huge machine. Compressing hot dense plasmas that produce neutrons is an important step toward realizing ignition, the level at which the fusion reaction becomes self-sustaining.


The amount of energy a larger successor to Z could bring to bear offers the still-later possibility of high-yield fusion -- the state in which much more energy is released than is needed to provoke the reaction initially to occur. The excess energy could be used for applications such as the generation of electricity, said Tom Mehlhorn, a project leader on the machine.

Z causes reactions to occur neither by confining low density plasmas in dimensionally huge magnetic fields, as do tokomaks, nor by focusing intense laser beams on or around a target, as in laser fusion, but simply through the application of huge pulses of electricity applied with very sophisticated timing. The pulse creates an intense magnetic field that crushes tungsten wires into a foam cylinder to produce X-rays. The X-ray energy, striking the surface of the target capsule embedded in the cylinder, produces a shock wave that compresses the deuterium within the capsule, fusing enough deuterium to produce neutrons.

"Pulsed power electrical systems have always been energy-rich but power-poor," said Ray Leeper, a Sandia manager. "That is, we can deliver a lot of energy, but it wasn’t clear we could concentrate it on a small enough area to create fusion. Now it seems clear we can do that."

A partial confirmation of the result came about when theoretical predictions and lab outcomes were determined to be of the same order of magnitude. Predictions and measurements of the neutron yield were both of the order of 10 billion neutrons. The predicted neutron yield depends on the ion density temperature and volume. Those quantities were independently confirmed by X-ray spectroscopy measurements.

Neutron pulses were observed as early as last summer but researchers were wary that the output was produced by interactions between the target and ions generated by Z’s processes, rather than within the capsule itself. Ion-generated neutrons were not the point of the experiment, since they would not scale up into a high-yield event in any later, more powerful version of Z.

But a series of experiments completed in late March demonstrated that the production was within the capsule itself. To show this, researchers inserted xenon gas within the capsule. The gas prevented the capsule from getting hot during compression. Thus, the neutron yield dropped dramatically, as predicted.

The action takes place within a container the size of a pencil eraser, called a hohlraum, at the center of the Z machine, itself a circular device about 120 feet in diameter.

Sandia researchers Jim Bailey and Gordon Chandler led the experimental team and Steve Slutz performed theortical calculations. Sandian Carlos Ruiz and Gary Cooper of the University of New Mexico performed the neutron measurements.


Sandia Media Relations Contact: Neal Singer, (505) 845-7078, nsinger@sandia.gov

Neal Singer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.sandia.gov/news-center/news-releases/2003/nuclear-power/Zneutrons.html
http://www.sandia.gov

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Producing electricity during flight
20.09.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Solar-to-fuel system recycles CO2 to make ethanol and ethylene
19.09.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>