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Archive for the ‘nuclear energy’ category: Page 7

May 22, 2021

Researchers develop advanced model to improve safety of next-generation reactors

Posted by in categories: engineering, nuclear energy, sustainability

When one of the largest modern earthquakes struck Japan on March 11, 2011, the nuclear reactors at Fukushima-Daiichi automatically shut down, as designed. The emergency systems, which would have helped maintain the necessary cooling of the core, were destroyed by the subsequent tsunami. Because the reactor could no longer cool itself, the core overheated, resulting in a severe nuclear meltdown, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

Since then, reactors have improved exponentially in terms of safety, sustainability and efficiency. Unlike the light-water reactors at Fukushima, which had liquid coolant and , the current generation of reactors has a variety of coolant options, including molten-salt mixtures, supercritical water and even gases like helium.

Dr. Jean Ragusa and Dr. Mauricio Eduardo Tano Retamales from the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University have been studying a new fourth-generation , -bed reactors. Pebble-bed reactors use spherical fuel elements (known as pebbles) and a fluid coolant (usually a gas).

May 10, 2021

Are We on the Brink of a New Age of Scientific Discovery?

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

In 2001 at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, a facility used for research in nuclear and high-energy physics, scientists experimenting with a subatomic particle called a muon encountered something unexpected.

To explain the fundamental physical forces at work in the universe and to predict the results of high-energy particle experiments like those conducted at Brookhaven, Fermilab in Illinois, and at CERN ’s Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, physicists rely on the decades-old theory called the Standard Model, which should explain the precise behavior of muons when they are fired through an intense magnetic field created in a superconducting magnetic storage ring. When the muon in the Brookhaven experiment reacted in a way that differed from their predictions, researchers realized they were on the brink of a discovery that could change science’s understanding of how the universe works.

Continue reading “Are We on the Brink of a New Age of Scientific Discovery?” »

May 8, 2021

MIT: On Course to Create a Fusion Power Plant

Posted by in categories: engineering, nuclear energy

How an MIT engineering course became an incubator for fusion design innovations.

“There is no lone genius who solves all the problems.”

Dennis Whyte, director of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC), is reflecting on a guiding belief behind his nuclear science and engineering class 22.63 (Principles of Fusion Engineering). He has recently watched his students, working in teams, make their final presentations on how to use fusion technology to create carbon-free fuel for shipping vessels. Since taking on the course over a decade ago, Whyte has moved away from standard lectures, prodding the class to work collectively on finding solutions to “real-world” issues. Over the past years the course, and its collaborative approach to design, has been instrumental in guiding the real future of fusion at the PSFC.

Apr 30, 2021

Look inside this lab where scientists are recreating the energy of the sun to produce nearly unlimited clean energy

Posted by in category: nuclear energy

At TAE Technologies lab in California, scientists are building a nuclear fusion machine to recreate the energy of the sun, stars and lightening here on Earth.

Apr 24, 2021

Z-Pinch fusion-based nuclear propulsion

Posted by in categories: military, nuclear energy, space

Circa 2013


Fusion-based nuclear propulsion has the potential to enable fast interplanetary transportation. Due to the great distances between the planets of our solar system and the harmful radiation environment of interplanetary space, high specific impulse (Isp) propulsion in vehicles with high payload mass fractions must be developed to provide practical and safe vehicles for human space flight missions.

The Z-Pinch dense plasma focus method is a Magneto-Inertial Fusion (MIF) approach that may potentially lead to a small, low cost fusion reactor/engine assembly [1]. Recent advancements in experimental and theoretical understanding of this concept suggest favorable scaling of fusion power output yield [2]. The magnetic field resulting from the large current compresses the plasma to fusion conditions, and this process can be pulsed over short timescales (10−6 s). This type of plasma formation is widely used in the field of Nuclear Weapons Effects testing in the defense industry, as well as in fusion energy research. A Z-Pinch propulsion concept was designed for a vehicle based on a previous fusion vehicle study called “Human Outer Planet Exploration” (HOPE), which used Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF) [3] propulsion.

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Apr 21, 2021

Approaching a Singularity, When The Number of Humans Alive Will Equal The Number Who Have Ever Died

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biological, genetics, life extension, nuclear energy, singularity, sustainability

There are several key technologies converging on an inevitable effect, namely a dramatic, explosive increase in human population. Currently around 40% of Earth’s total land area is dedicated to agricultural production to feed seven billion people, but, interestingly, while the human population will increase, the land area required to sustain this population will decrease, approaching zero land area to sustain a trillion human lives. In this era, bulk elements such as gold will have no value, since they will be so easy to produce by fusion separation of elements from bulk rock. Instead, value will be attached to biological material and, most importantly, new technologies themselves.

The several key emerging technologies that make this state of affairs unstoppable are listed along with aspects of their impact:

1) Most important is fusion energy, an unlimited, scalable energy, with no special fuel required to sustain it. This will allow nearly all agriculture to be contained in underground “vertical farm” buildings, extending thousands of feet downwards. Cheap artificially-lighted, climate-controlled environments will allow the maximum efficiency for all food crops. Thus, agriculture will take up close to zero surface area, largely produced underground on Earth or the Moon.

Continue reading “Approaching a Singularity, When The Number of Humans Alive Will Equal The Number Who Have Ever Died” »

Apr 18, 2021

How Bill Gates’ company TerraPower is building next-generation nuclear power

Posted by in categories: engineering, nuclear energy

TerraPower’s ability to achieve those goals will be in no small part due to the money and influence of the company’s founder.

“The most important factor is that Bill Gates is behind this,” principal research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology department of nuclear science and engineering Charles Forsberg tells CNBC Make It. “The most important factors in developing a new reactor are money and very competent people. Bill Gates brings both to the project.”

Here’s how TerraPower is building advanced nuclear power plants.

Continue reading “How Bill Gates’ company TerraPower is building next-generation nuclear power” »

Apr 14, 2021

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin lands a Pentagon contract to design nuclear-powered spacecraft

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

I don’t see why he needed a NASA contract when he could easily pay for this himself, but whatever.


Blue Origin, founded by Jeff Bezos, was one of three companies to land the Pentagon contract for a rocket powered by a nuclear reactor.

Continue reading “Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin lands a Pentagon contract to design nuclear-powered spacecraft” »

Apr 9, 2021

TAE reaches ‘hot enough’ plasma milestone

Posted by in categories: information science, nuclear energy, robotics/AI

TAE Technologies, the California, USA-based fusion energy technology company, has announced that its proprietary beam-driven field-reversed configuration (FRC) plasma generator has produced stable plasma at over 50 million degrees Celsius. The milestone has helped the company raise USD280 million in additional funding.

Norman — TAE’s USD150 million National Laboratory-scale device named after company founder, the late Norman Rostoker — was unveiled in May 2017 and reached first plasma in June of that year. The device achieved the latest milestone as part of a “well-choreographed sequence of campaigns” consisting of over 25000 fully-integrated fusion reactor core experiments. These experiments were optimised with the most advanced computing processes available, including machine learning from an ongoing collaboration with Google (which produced the Optometrist Algorithm) and processing power from the US Department of Energy’s INCITE programme that leverages exascale-level computing.

Plasma must be hot enough to enable sufficiently forceful collisions to cause fusion and sustain itself long enough to harness the power at will. These are known as the ‘hot enough’ and ‘long enough’ milestone. TAE said it had proved the ‘long enough’ component in 2015, after more than 100000 experiments. A year later, the company began building Norman, its fifth-generation device, to further test plasma temperature increases in pursuit of ‘hot enough’.

Apr 9, 2021

This Nuclear Reactor Just Made Fusion Viable by 2030. Seriously

Posted by in category: nuclear energy

This means 6 years after TAE began to reach “long enough,” Norman has finally reached “hot enough” frequently enough that it can begin to scale up for commercial power plants. And this is why the company says it feels it can build that kind of power plant by the end of the decade in 2030.


Nuclear fusion has long felt like decades away. Today, the timeline accelerates.

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