Archive for the ‘nuclear energy’ category

Sep 19, 2023

Why is China’s trying to build an artificial sun?

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, particle physics, sustainability

China is looking for a clean, sustainable energy source and is turning to the power of nuclear fusion.

What is a clean source of power that could provide clean and unlimited energy? Nuclear energy, which uses nuclear fission, comes to mind. But there is another potential source of energy that would promote sustainability – nuclear fusion.

Nuclear fusion is the opposite of nuclear fission. Fission means splitting atoms apart, which results in the release of energy. Fusion is when two atomic nuclei combine to form a heavier nucleus. Fusion is the process that powers the Sun and the stars.

Sep 15, 2023

Student-built nuclear fusion reactor to debut in Australia

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, particle physics

The student-built Tokamak reactor will be 3 × 3 feet in size and be the first such facility built for nuclear fusion in a university.

Australia is set to become home to the world’s first nuclear fusion facility designed, built, and operated by students. The project is planned by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) but will not use nuclear fuel, a press release said.

Nuclear fusion is the process where atoms of lighter elements like hydrogen are heated up to hundreds of millions of degrees Celsius to enable their fusion under large amounts of force. The process releases large amounts of energy, which can then be used to power devices and machines.

Sep 13, 2023

New poppy seed-sized fuel pellets could power nuclear reactors on the moon

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, space

Scientists have developed a nuclear fuel source no larger than a seed, which NASA will test for use in future moon missions.

Sep 13, 2023

Watch the nuclear-powered flying hotel that can stay airborne for years with 5,000 passengers

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, transportation

A concept video of Sky Cruise, a giant flying machine that can carry 5,000 passengers and has all the luxuries of the world, has gone viral on the internet. The maker of the video claims that such an aircraft built in the future would have no carbon footprint, The Independent reported.

The concept of a floating world in itself is not new and has been described even in Jonathan Swift’s works from the 18th century, much before the Wright Brothers made their first flight. Fans of animated movies might have also come across the concept in 1986 Japanese movie, Castle in the Sky.

Sep 4, 2023

Five Interesting Facts to Know About Zirconium

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, nuclear energy

Zirconium, the metal extracted from the mineral, zircon, may not be well-known, but its remarkable properties make it indispensable in nuclear power, the chemical industry, medicine and more. Since ancient times, zircon — a word believed to have originated from the Persian zargun, meaning gold-like — has been used in jewellery and decorations.

The IAEA has released The Metallurgy of Zirconium, a three-volume publication offering a comprehensive overview of the metal, its extraction, properties and applications in nuclear energy. Here are five interesting facts about zirconium.

Sep 3, 2023

Machine learning might help us finally unlock nuclear fusion

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, robotics/AI, sustainability

What if we could replace a time-consuming analysis, an important prerequisite to judge the right mix of isotopes to use?

Why can’t we find power the same way stars do— clean, renewable, and free of radioactive waste?

Humanity’s quest for clean and sustainable energy sources has reached a pivotal moment as researchers explore nuclear fusion. Unlike current nuclear fission plants that produce energy at the cost of radioactive waste, nuclear fusion offers the promise of virtually limitless and environmentally friendly power generation.

Sep 2, 2023

NASA and DARPA to Test Nuclear-Powered Rocket for Future Mars Missions

Posted by in categories: economics, nuclear energy, space travel

In a Nutshell…

Conclusively, the partnership between NASA and DARPA to test a nuclear-powered rocket for future Mars missions marks a significant milestone in space exploration. The use of a nuclear thermal rocket engine offers several benefits including faster transit times, increased science payload capacity, and higher power for instrumentation and communication. These advancements will play a crucial role in helping NASA meet its Moon-to-Mars objectives and establish a space transportation capability for the Earth-Moon economy. Moreover, the successful demonstration of the DRACO program could have far-reaching implications for future space exploration efforts. The nuclear thermal propulsion technology could be used for not just crewed missions to Mars but also for other deep space missions, enabling humans to journey faster than ever before. This collaboration between NASA and DARPA brings together the best of both worlds, and the successful outcome of this project will be a major achievement in advancing space technology. The future looks bright for the space industry, and with more innovations like the DRACO program, we may be able to explore even more of our universe in the years to come.

Aug 26, 2023

The first observation of neutrinos at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, particle physics

Neutrinos are tiny and neutrally charged particles accounted for by the Standard Model of particle physics. While they are estimated to be some of the most abundant particles in the universe, observing them has so far proved to be highly challenging, as the probability that they will interact with other matter is low.

To detect these particles, physicists have been using detectors and advanced equipment to examine known sources of . Their efforts ultimately led to the observation of neutrinos originating from the sun, cosmic rays, supernovae and other cosmic objects, as well as and nuclear reactors.

A long-standing goal in this field of study was to observe neutrinos inside colliders, particle accelerators in which two beams of particles collide with each other. Two large research collaborations, namely FASER (Forward Search Experiment) and SND (Scattering and Neutrino Detector)@LHC, have observed these collider neutrinos for the very first time, using detectors located at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland. The results of their two studies were recently published in Physical Review Letters.

Aug 24, 2023

Low-background Neutron Detector for Precise Measurement of Reaction Cross-Section

Posted by in categories: cosmology, nuclear energy, particle physics

This study has successfully developed a high-efficiency neutron detector array with an exceptionally low background to measure the cross-section of the 13C(α, n)16O reaction at the China Jinping Underground Laboratory (CJPL). Comprising 24 3He proportional counters embedded in a polyethylene moderator, and shielded with 7% borated polyethylene layer, the neutron background at CJPL was as low as 4.5 counts/h, whereby 1.94 counts/h was attributed to the internal α radioactivity. Remarkably, the angular distribution of the 13C(α, n)16O reaction was proven to be a primary variable affecting the detection efficiency. The detection efficiency of the array for neutrons in the range of 0.1MeV to 4.5 MeV was determined using the 51V(p, n)51Cr reaction carried out with the 3 MV tandem accelerator at Sichuan University and Monte Carlo simulations. Future studies can be planned to focus on further improvement of the efficiency accuracy by measuring the angular distribution of 13C(α, n)16O reaction.

Gamow window is the range of energies which defines the optimal energy for reactions at a given temperature in stars. The nuclear cross-section of a nucleus is used to describe the probability that a nuclear reaction will occur. The 13C(α, n)16O reaction is the main neutron source for the slow neutron capture process (s-process) in asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars, in which the 13C(α, n)16O reaction occurs at the Gamow window spanning from 150 to 230 keV. Hence, it is necessary to precisely measure the cross-section of 13C(α, n)16O reaction in this energy range. A low-background and high detection efficiency neutron detector is the essential equipment to carry out such measurements. This study developed a low-background neutron detector array that exhibited high detection efficiency to address the demands. With such development, advanced studies, including direct cross-section measurements of the key neutron source reactions in stars, can be conducted in the near future.

Low-background neutron detectors play a crucial role in facilitating research related to nuclear astrophysics, neutrino physics, and dark matter. By improving the efficiency and upgrading the technological capability of low background neutron detectors, this study indirectly contributes to the enhancement of scientific research. Additionally, fields involving material science and nuclear reactor technology would also benefit from the perfection of neutron detector technology. Taking into consideration the potential application and expansion of these findings, such innovative attempt aligns well with UNSDG9: Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure.

Aug 20, 2023

Q&A: Growing Steaks in the Lab

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, nuclear energy

Physicist Luke MacQueen combines tissue engineering with stem cell technologies to produce synthetic meat whose texture mimics that of natural meat.

Winston Churchill—the well-known wartime leader and lesser-known Nobel Laureate in Literature—published an essay in 1931 in The Strand Magazine in which he imagined the future “Fifty Years Hence.” Many of his predictions turned out to be prophetic—wireless telephones, television, and nuclear power—while others read like science fiction. But one of his futuristic ideas—growing meat in a lab—may just be a few years away, if Luke MacQueen of Harvard University has his way.

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