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Particle accelerator based nuclear fusion?

  1. Jan 4, 2016 #1
    I do think that the idea I had recently and one that I have been pondering about since is something mundane. Specifically because its so simple. Yet its an abstract one that I would like to know more about it from someone who can take the time to think about it and write a paragraph or two.

    In short form, the idea I recently had and doesn't seem to be explored on here before either is whether it is possible to archive nuclear fusion that produces excess energy than what goes into the process by targeting multiple streams of deuterium from all possible directions towards one point with a powerful particle accelerators?

    It seems perfectly possible to me. In it that it would look more like a laser fusion device but instead of lasers one uses powerful particle accelerators that accelerate deuterium and not just photons as in the case of lasers.
     
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  3. Jan 4, 2016 #2

    ZapperZ

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    This is not new. Please read this rather old thread:

    https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/why-not-particle-accelerators-for-fusion.90734/

    Please note that just because something is possible, it doesn't mean that it can be economically done! You need to consider if you are using MORE power than you generate (particle accelerators are HIGHLY INEFFICIENT!), and if something can be economically built. We know how to initiate fusion for many, many years already. But to generate it in a controlled manner, in an efficient way, and in such a way that the energy used to initiate and control the fusion process is less than what it generates, that is the difficult part.

    Zz.
     
  4. Jan 4, 2016 #3

    mfb

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    Particle accelerators up to ~1 MeV are extremely efficient, and fusion does not require higher energies.
    The collision process is inefficient (small probability of fusion per particle) which makes the whole concept inefficient, but that is a different point.
     
  5. Jan 8, 2016 #4

    bcrowell

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    There is also the issue of getting enough beam current out of your ion source. At the heavy ion accelerator I used to work at, the beam currents were measured in nanoamps. To produce macroscopic amounts of power from fusion, you'd need a current many orders of magnitude bigger than that. You would also need a target that could handle that amount of current without being destroyed. And I don't know at what point you start running into space charge issues.

    I suppose the OP's idea could in principle be modified to use counterrotating colliding beams.
     
  6. Jan 8, 2016 #5

    mfb

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    That makes it even worse. The problem is scattering versus fusion - with colliding beams you lose particles even faster than with a (larger) fixed target.
     
  7. Jan 8, 2016 #6

    bcrowell

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    Good point. I was thinking of electronic energy loss, but avoiding that energy loss doesn't help if the particles are scattered out of the beam.
     
  8. Jan 9, 2016 #7
    Off Topic: Do you have any experience in 'beaming' deuterons in ion sources and LEBT before they are given the big push in the accelerator? Was a lot of neutron radiation and gamma rays produced there?

    Sven Andersson
     
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