Nuclear fusion (not fission) is the answer to solving Earth’s carbon crisis. Now, German and Russian scientists are collaborating on furthering the technology.
The German nuclear research center in Jülich and Russian research at the Budker Center in Novosibirsk have signed a cooperation agreement for the joint construction of a special facility to produce polarized deuterium fuel from unpolarized deuterium. This will generate pre-ordered “nuclear spins”—alignments of the deuterium atoms—for fusion power experiments involving both deuterium and helium fuel. The joint project is funded by the German Research Association DFG and the Russian Science Foundation (RSF).
Departing from traditional generation of pre-ordered spins from already-polarized deuterium, the Russian scientists and engineers will contribute a specific magnetic field configuration, which will pre-order the isotope spins already during the polarization process. This enables the desired spins to be more easily filtered out and, in the same process, separated from the spin alignments not wanted for the experiment.
Why? The efficiency of the fusion power reaction is considerably higher with completely polarized fuel than with the traditional method. It gives a larger “cross-section” to the reaction which combines the atoms of deuterium and/or helium, at extremely high temperatures and pressures produced by magnets or lasers.
The reaction is thus longer-lasting—one major goal of fusion power development—and the energy and particles produced can be directed magnetically for technological purposes.
The key for German fusion power testing is the availability of this polarized fuel for the national fusion research center in Greifswald—an advanced magnetic fusion confinement design known as a Stellerator. In early February, Greifswald, with unpolarized fuel, achieved 80 million degrees Fahrenheit temperature for one-quarter of a second of complete confinement of the fusion plasma by the magnetic fields.
Each step gets us closer to unleashing the ultimate source of clean, safe energy for a carbon free world.