Nuclear fusion is tricky because it is essentially an attempt to replicate the processes of the Sun on Earth. For years scientists have been trying to harness this energy but with not much success.
Recent reports have emerged stating that nuclear fusion may be a question of when not if. This is important as its alternative nuclear fission has proven to be hugely expensive, generating large amounts of radioactive waste, and raising fundamental concerns about safety.
That's why we're excited to stumble on this new study by researchers from Princeton University who claimed they had found new methods for making nuclear fusion safer and, therefore, possible.
"Sharp temperature gradients in a magnetically confined plasma can lead to turbulent motion of the plasma. This turbulence, in turn, enhances the transport of heat across magnetic field lines. The enhanced transport impacts the temperature differential that can be sustained in magnetic islands between the island center and its periphery.
It is shown here that, by limiting this temperature differential, this enhanced transport can have a profound influence on the extent to which the RF current condensation effect stabilizes the island growth. Interestingly, because the heat transport is no longer simply linear in the temperature gradient, the RF current condensation effect also exhibits entirely new hysteresis phenomena. " write the researchers in their abstract.
What the Princeton team is describing is a system where the plasma could be molded in such a way that it reacts as the team desires it too. In addition, the system also handles Magnetic Islands, bubble-like structures that are capable of releasing a high amount of energy at any time, making fusion reactions extremely dangerous.
However, argue the researchers, sending radio waves through a fusion reaction can thwart these Magnet Islands from building up by hindering the flow of plasma and keeping the temperature under check. This process makes fusion reaction safer and more stable.