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Technology first light fusion record of the worlds first ever nuclear fusion event

Last week first light fusion record of the worlds first ever nuclear fusion event using a projectile fusion approach Anderson waiting at the end of the rainbow to provide energy which is cheap fusion is in the news a lot at the moment what's actually going on here is this really a breakthrough or is this just more blowing the horn to attract more funding I wanna take a look a little bit deeper and see what's actually going on I'm gonna break this into three parts number one what is fusion and why is first light approach so interesting number two how does a system actually work another three what happens next fusion is the same process that happens in stars it's been dubbed for a very long time as the holy Grail energy source occurs when atoms are pushed so close together they spontaneously fused into one releasing a huge amount of energy typically as heat fusion and nuclear reactors at the moment use a process called fission rather than bringing atoms together they split heavier atoms apart the unfortunate consequence of this process is there a produces a lot of radioactive material as a byproduct fusion technically produces a small amount of radioactive material but it's incredibly short lived compare to the long lifetime radioactive material that is produced by vision suffusion ultimately is seen as the perfect clean energy source however the energy requirements for fusion to actually happen or unbelievably high do you have to be at more than 100 million Kelvin to achieve it which is typically quite a lot hotter than the Sun

if you wanna recreate that process here on Earth or ability to be efficiently achieve fusion needs to be much higher there a few different types of approaches to try and achieve fusion one that you've probably heard about and seen pictures of Prolly there's something called magnetic confinement fusion superconducting magnets are used to squeeze the ions close enough together to cause them to go into a process of fusion is different to the approach the first lady is trying to take all their developing is something called projectile fusion which is in a category of fusion approach is called inertial fusion inertial fusion is typically a post process like an internal combustion engine you take a small amount of fuel injected in and ignited to make it fair I've covered the most popular approach to this inertial fusion here in this video at the National ignition facility which uses incredibly powerful and as a consequence incredibly complicated lasers as the spoke to trigger this reaction but first let's fusion approach seems to be released on the surface level a much simpler way of achieving fusion they use an exceptionally high velocity projectile fired a fuel source and it's actually isn't too different to have a hydrogen bomb work subject was find it incredibly high speed and impacts a target that contains the fusion fuel must focus that energy of the projectile and closet to implode the fuel to the temperature and density needed to make it fuse the approach the first light are taking I think it's interesting as a self report their mission as trying to solve the problem of fusion with the simplest machine possible because it's OK to be able to diffusion in alarm setting one time

but it's only really useful to us if a solution is scalable and if a solution is cheap so they can be used to provide but they referred to as the base load of our current energy requirements which essentially is replacing the current electrical grid that we have this will be use ultimately to continent things like renewable energy sources which worked fantastically but something like solar obviously doesn't work at night in your battery storage there's probably always going to be a gap in energy that we will need a grid to service so how does the system actually work first nice journey into their new message for fusion started inspired by nature by a small creature the pistol shrimp has an oversize for which you can click shot a very high speed the motion is so fast it launches a shockwave into the water and stress is it so much that rips apart and forms of Bob the vapour inside though is heated to tens of thousands of degrees and emits a bright flash of light this in slightly simplified terms is essentially first lights approach projectile fusion has been considered in for a very long time but often thought of the required velocity to achieve it would fundamentally be too high first light is aiming to reduce that requirement by building a special type of fuel target technology they use have a built-in amplifier that boosts the pressure generated by the impact of the projectile and make sure it's delivered into a much higher pressure zone into the fuel the amplifier serves to create convergence what is the initial impact only comes from a single side the fuel is squashed from many directions and this is crucial for reaching the required final density to ignite the fusion process the incredible density and pressure from the amplified impact compresses the fuel contained in the target in Africa undergo fusion and due to the design of their

amplification within their fuel sources firstly is hoping to reduce that required projectile velocity at the moment from reading around the subject it seems like first light is working onto kind of parallel systems their successful fusion experiment results referred to as BFG big friendly gun which far is a project are using good old-fashioned gunpowder to reach a projectile speed of about 6.5 km/s directed Internet fuel target this obviously is awesome and it's a world first demonstration for this technique of being able to achieve fusion but at the moment this is just a lab set up the energy from that fusion event wasn't actually captured in any way that is useful but firstly are working on a system in parallel called machine three or M3 come to viable commercial approach to actually delivering this fusion technology when I reached out to 1st light CEO neck on Twitter he confirmed of BFG was primarily for testing the fuel targets so that they can optimise their construction ball machine three was designed to be something approaching a proper commercial system machine three rather than using gunpowder like BFG uses an electromagnetic launcher something equivalent to a railgun capable of firing a cup of project all this about 10 mm in diameter 1 mm in thickness in about 20 to 30 km/s choice the escape velocity of the Earth and acceleration is delivered in about 5 mm the power plant application that target fuel source would be dropped into a reaction chamber and the projectile will be launched download through the same entrance way to catch up with it at just the right moment to strike it at the heart of the fusion chamber the initial interviews I was listening

to it sounds like they would look to repeat this process about every five seconds during diffusion event about 4/5 that heat energy that is released goes into the neutrons that are fired out of the process and here first late is looking to use something called a liquid lithium coolant to absorb those neutrons and catch of the heat to pipe he did liquid into essentially a steam engine in order to generate electricity this is at the end of the day something that on the front end is an artificial star at the back and it's just a good old-fashioned steam engine because sometimes simpler is better this is what the big news is about but I guess what happens next and is this thing actually going to work ultimately I say there's still a huge amount of science and engineering to be done for this technique and the team behind it do you seem laser focused or I guess projectile focused on the right things delivering something that is commercially viable in the cheapest and easiest way possible to simplify an otherwise incredibly difficult challenge first light from a lot of angles that I've looked at them sensible commercial steps things like replacing the lasers with just gas guns to swap out the precious metals required in some other systems fuel sources for something that is a little bit easier and cheaper to manufacture overall I've seen some estimates that the system could be about 1000 times cheaper than the other approaches to achieving fusion I think the main benefit behind it is this a prince diffusion is something that we've already achieved the physics behind it is much simpler no I would say when I did see these guys back in 2019 there was no mention of this BFG

big friendly gun it may have been I don't know created to kind of the couple that fuel target design process from the process of building a commercial commercially viable device if that so I think that makes a lot of sense potentially it was really complicated to try and improve the fuel design was also building into a system that they thought might work I would at this point be really interested to see what their ultimate business model is and if they are actually going to be going out to try and deliver that front and reactor design or are they building towards more of just supplying the fuel source and requiring others to build a kind of a front and fusion reactor their approach I think if they can make this core process deliverable and achievable the majority of the rest of the power plant is actually quite easy to produce with a lot of existing technology that we already have so in theory this approach could have a really rapid rapid trajectory towards commercial fusion what does that actually mean it probably means something more like 10 years Hayley alternative with something more like 30 years so that is a little bit of a quicker timeline towards the next steps the plan for next steps of delivering again experiment to show that system get more energy out than he's put into it bit of a contentious issue because a lot of science reporting doesn't measure this approach fairly but that is the topic of another day first way at the moment looks like it's aiming towards delivering a pilot plant to produce about 150 MW of electricity at a price point that is less than $1 billion and aiming to deliver this somewhere in the early 2030s I think there's a lot of interesting

aspects going on here I think purposely moving into a regime with a physics is easier to solve with a system is easier to build is really sensible going back to those first principles and saying hey what do we actually need to do to achieve this goal is a good fundamental process that I haven't seen a lot of the other fusion approaches teaching what do you think are we finally 10 years away from fusion rather than 30 years away let me know in the comments down below if you enjoy this news article.
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