MIT makes significant breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion

MIT makes significant breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion

After running a series of complex experiments, MIT has finally made a breakthrough in one of the most baffling problems in nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion is a nuclear reaction in which two or more atomic nuclei (in this case, Hydrogen atoms) combine to form an even bigger nucleus (in this case, Helium).

This reaction is important because when these two Hydrogen atoms combine to form Helium, they release an incredible amount of energy; energy that some scientists believe we can harness to provide power to the whole world for years and years to come.

nuclear fusion

Although quite an interesting idea, there have been difficulties in making it a reality. For one, combining two atomic nuclei requires an incredible amount of energy in itself, so that is one tricky part. The second part is that the energy released after the nuclei combine is lost due to the turbulence in the nuclear reactor. This second problem is what MIT looked into.

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Ideally, scientists expected that the turbulence caused by ions and turbulence caused by electrons would cancel each other out, resulting in little or no turbulence in the reactor itself. At least that is what their model was based on. But after experiments, it happened that there was always turbulence in the reactor and no one could understand why it occurred or where it came from.

nuclear fusion reactor

[Image Source: Nerdist]

This was until researchers at MIT decided to run a simulation but this time, accounting for both types of turbulence. Due to the extra variables, the computation became much more complex than it was before. To give you an idea of just how complex it was, it took 17,000 processors and 37 days to complete the simulation. This makes it 15 million hours of computation!

Nevertheless, MIT did get the result they were looking for and with this, scientists should have a better understanding of the underlying process.


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