Article: “NASA’s New Shortcut to Fusion Power” (IEEE Spectrum)

Thanks to the readers who sent me a link to this article published in the IEEE Spectrum magagzine titled “NASA’s New Shortcut to Fusion Power: Lattice confinement fusion eliminates massive magnets and powerful lasers” written by Bayabadrakh Baramsai, Theresa Benyo, Lawrence Forsley and Bruce Steinetz of the NASA Glenn Research Center

The article discusses the potential for using ‘lattice confinement fusion’ as a means to power spacecraft, as an alternative to fuel cells, PV cells and radioisotope generators which are current in use. They also extend this beyond spacecraft by looking at whether LCF could be an alternative to ‘hot’ fusion as a means of generating heat/electricity.

The authors explain that they have experimentally observed ‘screened fusion’ where an energetic deuteron fuses with another deuteron in a metal lattice, releasing energy and causing further fusion reactions. They say they have also achieved nuclear reactions with deuterium gas in palladium-silver tubing. More technical detail is provided in the paper.

They state:

“Overall, in LCF, most of the heating occurs in regions just tens of micrometers across. This is far more efficient than in magnetic- or inertial-confinement fusion reactors, which heat up the entire fuel amount to very high temperatures. LCF isn’t cold fusion—it still requires energetic deuterons and can use neutrons to heat them. However, LCF also removes many of the technologic and engineering barriers that have prevented other fusion schemes from being successful.”

They mention that Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division are involved in LCF research, and upcoming conferences of the American Nuclear Society and ICCF 24, will be covering the topic.