An article in The Energy Report discussed Sandia National Lab’s progress in fusion energy research, with key advances in the materials used to line the fusion reactor. In order to sustain a fusion reaction, special materials are needed to withstand the extremely high temperatures required. Sandia National Lab’s use of beryllium liners seem to have increased their confidence that achieving net energy gain is possible by the end of next year. From the article:
Now along comes Sandia and its new advance.
The lab has created a system in which controlled nuclear fusion could work at break-even or better within the next few years. The team says this has “extraordinary energy and defense implications.”
And to think—it all hinged on coming up with a new type of “liner“. . .
Themajor challenge for fusion research: finding a way to contain hot plasma—one hot enough to melt any container—long enough to get energy out.
In the experiments the team just completed, new beryllium liners remained reasonably intact and in the shape of a cylinder throughout the electromagnetic implosion.
In this process of implosion, the liners are hit with a huge magnetic field from Sandia’s Z machine. That’s the world strongest pulsed-power laser. Pulsed power refers to a type of tech that takes electrical energy and turns it into short pulses of huge power.
Had the liners suffered too much damage, the process would not have yielded enough atoms to get them to fuse. For fusion to truly work, these metal liners have to maintain their integrity while they implode from the force of all that energy.