In what might be another of nature’s great ironies, gold may help trigger a cheaper fusion reaction, the South China Morning Post is reporting.
According to the newspaper, Chinese scientists fired powerful laser beam pulses at a pair of gold cones to produce nuclear fusion. The cones are extremely small with narrow ends that face each other and emit hydrogen plasma. Controlling the precise collision of these two hot gas streams may produce the fusion.
To produce power, the cones would need to be mass-produced and loaded into a machine that rotates and fired, almost like a Gatling gun, the scientists say.
The scientists report that this technique could conceivably be a much less expensive path to fusion than other approaches that are currently being explored.
“Our goal is to achieve sustainable fusion,” project lead Zhang Zhe from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Physics in Beijing told the SCMP.
There is a lot of work left to do, the scientists told SCMP. So far, the team has conducted three “relatively” successful tests with more experiments planned.
The SCMP added: “And although the work has not been without its fair share of challenges, initial results indicate the theory works.”
“We are making progress one step at a time,” Zhe told reporters.
The team’s results thus far have been published in the domestic peer-reviewed journal Acta Physica Sinica.