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Could these mini reactors replicate the power of the Sun?

For decades scientists have tried to replicate nuclear fusion - the process that powers the Sun.
If successful it would provide a source of energy with far less waste than the current generation of fission reactors and would generate electricity without carbon emissions.
One company, Tokamak Energy, thinks its mini fusion generators (Tokamaks) may hold the answer by allowing the company to test ideas faster than their competitors.

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German plasma success raises nuclear fusion hopes

A German nuclear fusion experiment has produced a special super-hot gas which scientists hope will eventually lead to clean, cheap energy.
The helium plasma - a cloud of loose, charged particles - lasted just a tenth of a second and was about one million degrees Celsius.
It was hailed as a breakthrough for the Max Planck Institute's stellarator - a chamber whose design differs from the tokamak fusion devices used elsewhere.

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Dry-run experiments verify key aspect of Sandia nuclear fusion concept

Magnetically imploded tubes called liners, intended to help produce controlled nuclear fusion at scientific "break-even" energies or better within the next few years, have functioned successfully in preliminary tests, according to a Sandia research paper accepted for publication by Physical Review Letters (PRL).
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New state of matter seen on cheap

Students and enthusiasts attending a recording for BBC Radio 4 have probably seen a new state of matter only recently discovered, an expert says.
The state of matter is a plasma (ionised gas) like those in nuclear fusion tests, but at higher densities.
And far from needing hundred-million-pound apparatus, the conditions can be achieved in a simple glass tube containing a routine liquid.
The professor behind the demonstration says it can be achieved for a mere 10.

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UK joins laser nuclear fusion project

The UK has formally joined forces with a US laser lab in a bid to develop clean energy from nuclear fusion.
Unlike fission plants, the process uses lasers to compress atomic nuclei until they join, releasing energy.
The National Ignition Facility (Nif) in the US is drawing closer to producing a surplus of energy from the idea.
The UK company AWE and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory have now joined with Nif to help make laser fusion a viable commercial energy source.

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Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion Energy

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have announced a breakthrough that could lead to break-even nuclear fusion reactions within 2-3 years. The goal of nuclear fusion research is to make energy from sea water, producing only the harmless gas helium as a result of the fusion reaction. It is the holy grail of clean, sustainable energy, the same process that powers our sun. The nuclear fusion efforts involve research at the cutting edge of physics, where one of the avenues of exploration goes by the name "Z-pinch" (which should gain the technique immediate street cred should it be successful). So what is a Z-pinch? And how could it power the future?
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Iran launches nuclear fusion bid

Iran has launched a programme aimed at developing a nuclear fusion reactor - an ambition long-cherished by Western nations.
Asghar Sediqzadeh, head of the fusion research institute, said initial studies would last for two years, and a reactor would take 10 years to build.
Fusion is used in hydrogen bombs, but scientists have been unable to harness the energy created in such reactions.

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'Dramatic' step for laser fusion

A major hurdle to producing fusion energy using lasers has been swept aside by results in a new report.
The controlled fusion of atoms - creating conditions like those in our Sun - has been touted as a potentially revolutionary energy source.
However, there have been doubts about the planned use of powerful lasers for fusion energy because the "plasma" they create could interrupt the fusion.

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See also National Ignition Facility


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For decades, scientists have been trying to figure out how to harness the fusion reaction to generate electrical power. A key milestone would be passing the "break-even" point, at which a controlled fusion reaction produces more energy than it consumes. Research aiming toward that goal is moving along three main routes, and the pace of progress can vary, depending on which road you're travelling down. Here's a status report on the fusion race:
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Astrophysicists recreate stars in the lab
Greater understanding of energetic processes in stars could accelerate development of clean energy from nuclear fusion. ESF project brings together astronomical theory, observation and experiment
Astronomers are recruiting the physics laboratory to unravel the high energy processes involved in formation of stars and other critical processes within the universe. Experiments with high energy radiation and plasmas in the laboratory involving temperatures and magnetic fields over a million times greater than normally encountered on earth are also producing spin off benefits for important applications, notably in the drive towards nuclear fusion as a source of clean carbon-neutral energy.
Although a great deal has been learnt through a combination of theoretical models and observation of the universe right across the electromagnetic spectrum including visible light with conventional optical telescopes, many questions on energetic processes taking place billions of miles away still remain unanswered. This is why astrophysicists are turning to a third ingredient, the high energy laboratory, fusing results obtained there with theoretical models and direct observation through instruments. The state of this highly promising field was discussed at a recent workshop organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF), which also set out a roadmap for future collaborative research in Europe over the next five years.

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