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First Light Fusion in race to create sustainable fusion reaction

first-light-fusion-logoNuclear fusion is the dream of energy scientists the world over, because it promises limitless, clean electricity. It’s this reaction that lies at the heart of our stars.It’s not surprising that scientists have been trying to harness the power of fusion, especially given we’re in desperate need of clean energy. In theory, it uses very little fuel to create masses of energy with zero emissions. If it can be initiated and controlled, it could solve the energy crisis overnight.

Making the reaction happen on Earth is  hard – we don’t have the benefit of gravitational forces that occur at the centre of stars. Without those forces, we have to find alternative means of creating them — and holding them in place so the reaction can start. There may be a more humble alternative. It’s called sonofusion, and it involves bubbles.

First Light Fusion — a spin-out from the University of Oxford — claims to be “studying the use of intense shockwaves to crush gas-filled cavities, inducing asymmetric collapses that concentrate energy in space and time.” First Light Fusion is generating huge shock fronts, that strike a bubble and cause it to collapse catastrophically, releasing energy.

Whoever wins the race to creating a sustainable fusion reaction — whether it’s with lasers, plasma-filled doughnuts or acoustic shockwaves — will likely dominate the field, at least initially. But the fortunes of the bubble might be rising faster than some people realise.

Read more about sonofusion in the article from Gizmodo Australia here

Joanna Grant