A collaboration of researchers at the University of Gothenburg and the University of Iceland has been studying a new type of nuclear fusion process. The new process idea produces almost no neutrons but instead fast, heavy electrons (muons), since it is based on nuclear reactions in ultra-dense heavy hydrogen (deuterium).

Plasma Clump For Fusion Experiment. Image Credit: University of Gothenburg.

Plasma Clump For Fusion Experiment. Image Credit: University of Gothenburg.

The Gothenburg press release offers that the team thinks the new fusion energy process may soon be used in small-scale power stations. That means producing environmentally friendly heating and electricity at a low cost from a fuel found in water. The process has development concepts for both heating generators and generators for electricity.

Nuclear fusion, the reaction process of atomic nuclei joining together and releasing energy could take advantage of the low binding energy of tiny atomic nuclei where the energy can be released by combining two small nuclei with a heavier one.

Leif Holmlid, Professor Emeritus at the University of Gothenburg said, “This is a considerable advantage compared to other nuclear fusion processes which are under development at other research facilities, since the neutrons produced by such processes can cause dangerous flash burns.”

The new fusion process can take place in relatively small laser-fired fusion reactors fuelled by heavy hydrogen (deuterium). It has already been shown to produce more energy than that needed to start it. Heavy hydrogen is found in large quantities in ordinary water and is easy to extract. The dangerous handling of radioactive heavy hydrogen (tritium), which would most likely be needed for operating large-scale fusion reactors with a magnetic enclosure in the future, is therefore unnecessary.

Holmlid continues, “A considerable advantage of the fast heavy electrons produced by the new process is that these are charged and can therefore produce electrical energy instantly. The energy in the neutrons which accumulate in large quantities in other types of nuclear fusion is difficult to handle because the neutrons are not charged. These neutrons are high-energy and very damaging to living organisms, whereas the fast, heavy electrons are considerably less dangerous.”

Neutrons are difficult to slow down or stop and require reactor enclosures that are several meters thick. Muons – fast, heavy electrons – decay very quickly into ordinary electrons and similar particles.

Research shows that far smaller and simpler fusion reactors can be built. The next step is to create a generator that produces instant electrical energy.

The research work in this area has been supported by GU Ventures AB, the holding company linked to the University of Gothenburg. The results have recently been published in three international scientific journals.

First see Holmlid and Olafsson’s “Spontaneous Ejection of High-Energy Particles from Ultra-Dense Deuterium D” published in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy.

Next is Holmlid and Olafsson’s “Muon Detection studied by Pulse-Height Energy Analysis: Novel Converter Arrangements” published in the Review of Scientific Instruments.

Third is Holmlid’s “Heat Generation above Break-Even from Laser-Induced Fusion in Ultra-Dense Deuterium” published in AIP Advances.  Full text is available currently at the link.

The Swedes are to be applauded for the development and the progress. Most interesting is the funding as the competition for the resources especially at a university must be intense. Then, considering our attention to boron fueled fusion here, there is perhaps the innovation of fueling. Note the heavy atom is not named. Curiosity here is very highly peaked.

Its of great interest that the research for creating a generator that produces instant electrical energy from highly energized electrons is already getting underway.

We wish Holmlid great progress and lots of support. One way or another, the potential of fusion is going to get opened up and the revolution in energy production will begin in earnest.


1 Comment so far

  1. KaiserDerden on September 29, 2015 9:37 AM

    there is nothing new about using deuterium as the fuel for fusion … I remember it being used in the earliest experiments on fusion in the 70’s and 80’s …

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind