China Boasts Successful Nuclear Fusion

By Irina Slav 

Chinese media have reported that researchers working on a nuclear fusion project have succeeded in holding plasma of 120 million degrees Celsius for close to two minutes.

Chinese daily Global Times reports that the so-called artificial sun as the Chinese nuclear fusion project is known also succeeded in maintaining plasma at 160 million degrees Celsius for 20 seconds.

These times, while not very long in absolute terms, are records in the quest for nuclear fusion. The next step would be to maintain these temperatures for as long as a week, according to a physics professor from the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen.

China’s nuclear fusion reactor first madeheadlines in 2019 when Beijing said it would soon begin operations. The reactor—the HL-2M Tokamak—was first powered at the end of last year, and its first achievement was maintaining a temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius for 100 minutes.

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China’s “Artificial Sun” Fusion Reactor Just Set a World Record

The reactor got more than 10 times hotter than the core of the Sun. 

By TONY TRAN

Is it hot in here, or is it just the fusion reactor? 

China broke a record with its Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) fusion reactor on Friday when it sustained a plasma temperature of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds, according to the state-run outlet GlobalTimes. The reactor was also able to sustain a temperature of 160 million degrees Celsius for 20 seconds.

For perspective, the core of our solar system’s Sun “only” reaches about 15 million degrees Celsius, according to Space.com. So, for a moment, EAST got more than 10 times hotter than that.   

This marks a big milestone for the EAST reactor, which has been dubbed the “artificial Sun” for its ability to replicate the natural nuclear fusion process of stars. Doing so could help unlock the mystery to creating sustainable, reliable fusion power.

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Scientists look to capture clean energy from our clothing

Could a jacket or a pair of jeans one day power your mobile phone and other electronic devices?

by Craig McManamon , Heriot-Watt University

This is the aim of a multi-disciplined team of scientists including from Heriot-Watt University’s Research Institute for Flexible Materials, who are behind a new project to harvest the kinetic energy generated in clothing through state-of-the-art nano technology.

The academics, all of whom are based in Scotland and Ireland, are attempting to create a friction based wearable autonomous energy system. They will use cutting-edge nanogenerators, which are designed to capture and reuse the kinetic energy in clothing materials created as the wearer moves. If successful, these tiny, unobtrusive devices will be woven into every-day clothing.

The team say their technology could be available as early as 2027 and capable of powering a host of devices such as mobile phones, smart watches and tablets. 

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Two’s a crowd: Nuclear and renewables don’t mix

If countries want to lower emissions as substantially, rapidly and cost-effectively as possible, they should prioritize support for renewables, rather than nuclear power, the findings of a major new energy study concludes. Credit: University of Sussex

If countries want to lower emissions as substantially, rapidly and cost-effectively as possible, they should prioritize support for renewables, rather than nuclear power.

That’s the finding of new analysis of 123 countries over 25 years by the University of Sussex Business School and the ISM International School of Management which reveals that nuclear energy programs around the world tend not to deliver sufficient carbon emission reductions and so should not be considered an effective low carbon energy source.

Researchers found that unlike renewables, countries around the world with larger scale national nuclear attachments do not tend to show significantly lower carbon emissions—and in poorer countries nuclear programs actually tend to associate with relatively higher emissions.

Published today in Nature Energy, the study reveals that nuclear and renewable energy programs do not tend to co-exist well together in national low-carbon energy systems but instead crowd each other out and limit effectiveness.

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Researchers achieve world’s first manipulation of antimatter by laser

by TRIUMF

Researchers with the CERN-based ALPHA collaboration have announced the world’s first laser-based manipulation of antimatter, leveraging a made-in-Canada laser system to cool a sample of antimatter down to near absolute zero. The achievement, detailed in an article published today and featured on the cover of the journal Nature, will significantly alter the landscape of antimatter research and advance the next generation of experiments.

Antimatter is the otherworldly counterpart to matter; it exhibits near-identical characteristics and behaviors but has opposite charge. Because they annihilate upon contact with matter, antimatter atoms are exceptionally difficult to create and control in our world and had never before been manipulated with a laser.

“Today’s results are the culmination of a years-long program of research and engineering, conducted at UBC but supported by partners from across the country,” said Takamasa Momose, the University of British Columbia (UBC) researcher with ALPHA’s Canadian team (ALPHA-Canada) who led the development of the laser. “With this technique, we can address long-standing mysteries like: ‘How does antimatter respond to gravity? Can antimatter help us understand symmetries in physics?’. These answers may fundamentally alter our understanding of our Universe.”

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Scientists will test the world’s first nuclear fusion reactor this summer

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) will, if things go according to plan, move one step closer to becoming the world’s first functioning nuclear fusion reactor this summer when scientists conduct its inaugural test runs.

Nuclear fusion has, traditionally, been used as the core scientific principle behind thermonuclear warheads. But the same technology that powers our weapons of mass destruction could, theoretically, be harnessed to power our cities. This would be the first fusion reactor capable of producing more energy than it takes to operate.

If we can build and operate fusion reactors safely, we could almost certainly solve the global energy crisis for good. But that’s a big if.

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Newly Developed Circuit Could Create Clean Limitless Power from Graphene

A SAMPLE OF THE ENERGY-HARVESTING CHIP, STILL UNDER DEVELOPMENT.

by Alessandro Mascellino

University of Arkansas physicists have made progress in their development of circuits capable of capturing graphene’s thermal motion and converting it into an electrical current.

Talking on Short Talks From The Hill last month, Paul Thibado, professor of physics and lead researcher in the discovery, gave the public an update on its research. After spending three years on this project, Thibado’s team has now successfully developed a circuit capable of harvesting energy from graphene. Paul Thibado holding a box with sample energy-harvesting chips. Image used courtesy of the University of Arkansas.

Graphene is a material composed of a single layer of carbon atoms, in which the atoms are arranged in a honeycomb lattice structure.

“You can get graphene from graphite,” Thibado said in the podcast. “So if you take graphite, which is basically coal, and you kind of peel it, it’s very flaky, you thin it down. Eventually, you’ll get down to one atomic plane of graphite and that is graphene.”

Scientists first isolated graphene in 2004, but it was only during Thibado’s research that a single layer of the material was examined as a ‘sheet of atoms’.

“What’s very interesting is we [took] this single layer of graphene and we put it over a picture frame so that it’s freestanding in the middle of the frame, and it has very unique properties because it’s this sheet of atoms that never existed before,” Thibado explained.

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US Navy’s solar satellite can open the way for solar farms in space

Virgilio Marin 

(Natural News) Researchers with the Navy are testing a space-based solar panel in a bid to install a solar farm in orbit around Earth. Known as the Photovoltaic Radiofrequency Antenna Module (PRAM), the solar panel is no bigger than a pizza box but can be scaled up to generate large amounts of energy.

The Navy launched PRAM to space in May last year aboard its unmanned space plane X-37B. The solar panel now loops around Earth every 90 minutes, capturing sunlight that could one day be transmitted to any place on Earth.

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Toyota creates hydrogen fuel-cell module to power buses, trains, ships

By STEPHEN EDELSTEIN

In addition to selling hydrogen fuel-cell cars, Toyota hopes to become a supplier of fuel-cell tech to other companies. To that end, the automaker has developed a modular fuel-cell system for use in other types of vehicles, including buses, trains, and ships, as well as stationary generators.

The goal is to grow the use of fuel cells by making a plug-and-play solution available to companies for the widest-possible array of applications, a Toyota press release said.

The modules are based on components from the second-generation Toyota Mirai sedan. While they include some ancillaries, such as power control, air supply, cooling, and hydrogen lines, the modules don’t include hydrogen tanks, leaving it up to each third-party user to figure out packaging.

Toyota plans to offer vertical and horizontal configurations, each with an output of 60 kilowatts (80 horsepower) or 80 kw (107 hp). The vertical version weighs about 550 pounds, while the horizontal version weighs about 530 pounds, according to Toyota.

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Tesla expanding into solar microgrids and virtual power plants

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Elon Musk says he expects Tesla’s energy business will one day be equal to or exceed its automotive business. That day may be some time in the future but the company is clearly expanding its solar and battery operations rapidly, both for grid scale and residential applications.

Last week, Michael Snyder, Tesla’s director of engineering and construction for energy projects posted on Linked In, “If you like solving problems at the nexus of power systems interactions, protection coordination, system and product level controls, and DERs (Powerpacks, Megapacks, solar, and generators), check out the link below for a microgrid-focused product engineer. We have 120+ operational microgrids around the world with high impact to a variety of communities/customers. This is a unique and rewarding role.” That post was followed by a link to apply for a position with Tesla Energy.

According to E&E News, a microgrid is a cluster of energy generators — whether diesel or solar or wind powered — that serves nearby users such as a building or a campus. That cluster “islands” and keeps the lights on even if the regular grid around it blacks out, something that is happening more frequently because of severe storms, wildfires and floods associated with a warming climate. “If you look at the performance of the U.S. grid, it just gets worse and worse and worse,” says Peter Asmus, who studies microgrids as a research director at Guidehouse Insights.

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New nuclear engine concept could help realize 3-month trips to Mars

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The concept engine is twice as efficient as chemical rockets

Seattle-based Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies (USNC-Tech) has developed a concept for a new Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) engine and delivered it to NASA. Claimed to be safer and more reliable than previous NTP designs and with far greater efficiency than a chemical rocket, the concept could help realize the goal of using nuclear propulsion to revolutionize deep space travel, reducing Earth-Mars travel time to just three months.

Because chemical rockets are already near their theoretical limits and electric space propulsion systems have such low thrust, rocket engineers continue to seek ways to build more efficient, more powerful engines using some variant of nuclear energy. If properly designed, such nuclear rockets could have several times the efficiency of the chemical variety. The problem is to produce a nuclear reactor that is light enough and safe enough for use outside the Earth’s atmosphere – especially if the spacecraft is carrying a crew.

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Sociologist : When fracking becomes a mental health disaster

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“What’s stressful is the unknowns and how this industry is operating behind a curtain all the time.”

Fracking’s devastating impact on our health and the planet, not to mention its contributions to climate change, are extremely well-documented. What’s not as well understood, however, is how it impacts our mental health.

As it turns out, Colorado State University sociologist Stephanie Malin wrote in The Conversation, the answer is “quite a bit.” As she describes it, the problem is two-fold: stress and other direct impacts caused by the increased noise in the area, and then a feeling of powerlessness to do anything about it.

Citing her own research in the journal Energy Research & Social Science, Malin argues that fracking leads to serious mental health issues throughout Colorado — and that those affected are being overlooked.

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