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Muon-Catalyzed Fusion of Metallic Hydrogen

  1. Apr 5, 2008 #1
    Can buckyballs compress hydrogen into high-density metallic form?

    http://www.dailytech.com/Suprisingl...ises+Better+Hydrogen+Storage/article11342.htm

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080320095005.htm

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/research/4256976.html

    If so, would muon-catalyzed fusion of such metallic hydrogen yield energy output greater than breakeven?
    It's been pointed out that of all fusion efforts conducted so far, it was Nagamine's mcf experiments which achieved the highest recorded figure of ~67% of breakeven. And that was done with solid frozen hydrogen targets.

    So what if attempts were made using metallized hydrogen inside of buckyballs? For one thing, wouldn't the electron probability density function be abnormally high inside the interior of a buckyball? Wouldn't that help the muons to move quickly into the region where the metallized hydrogen would be sitting?

    Graphene seems to have some very useful properties with respect to electrons. So I'd wonder how graphene would treat muons? (Maybe that's a topic for a separate thread, but I'd also like to discuss how the apparently "massless" behavior of electrons in graphene might might have implications on the behavior of muons, which are the heavier cousins to the electrons.)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 5, 2008 #2

    Astronuc

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    Staff: Mentor

    At the moment muon catalyzed fusion is not practical because their production would consume way more energy than the fusion reactions they initiate before decay. The lifetime of the muon is 2.20 microseconds.

    Another complication here is that metallic hydrogne and buckballs do not exist at temperatures consistent with fusion - 1 ev is equivalent to 11605 K, and fusion events produce temperatures in MeV range.

    The electrons in the metallic hydrogen would interfere with the fusion process, and very likely preclude it. The muon would have to displace an electron between two deuterons (or d,t - since protons or protium would be rather impractical), cause a fusion reaction, and move on to cause other fusion reactions before it decays. Then to be practical, the energy produced has to be transported from the site of the fusion reation to an energy conversion system.
     
  4. Apr 5, 2008 #3
    Well, the graphene of the buckyballs could transport thermal or voltaic energy fairly quickly to a conversion system. That's why buckyballs have even been loaded into organic solar photovoltaic materials, to improve the conductivity.

    As for muons moving from each diatomic pair to the next, that's what they do. I believe a single muon can catalyze over 100 fusions in its lifetime, with frozen hydrogen. But perhaps with metallic hydrogen it could achieve more fusions. Things would be so squeezed together, they'd no longer be diatomic, and so a muon would have more opportunities to fuse hydrogen nuclei.
     
  5. Apr 29, 2008 #4

    mheslep

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    Gold Member

    I don't believe the distance, or mean path, of the muon is the limiting factor to the cycle time. Most of the cycle is spent in forming the new mu-DT molecule per the attached cycle from T. Ryder's "Is There a Better Route to Fusion?", 2005

    With regards to power output: Muon production energy required = 5GeV. The best case fusion power output is 200 fusions in the 2.2 us decay as Astronuc states, or 1GeV useful output for DT fusion (most energy per fusion).
     

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    Last edited: Apr 29, 2008
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