A Startup With No Website Just Announced a Major Fusion Breakthrough
A small startup has announced a major advance toward fusion power, the Holy Grail of energy that could rid us of fossil fuels forever. Tri Alpha Energy says it’s built a machine that can hold a hot blob of plasma steady at 10 million degrees Celsius for five whole milliseconds.
Fusion power, the ever-science fictional energy source physicists have been chasing for decades, is premised on heating hydrogen atoms to temperatures hotter than the surface of the sun to produce a roiling mixture of electrons and ions known as plasma. When ions in a plasma collide, they sometimes form new atoms and release tremendous amounts of energy. (This is, in fact, the same type of reaction that powers the stars.) If only humans could figure out how to sustain a net-positive fusion reaction, we could kiss dirty carbon pollution goodbye.
If Tri Alpha’s claim is true, then the company has managed to hold a superheated ball of plasma steady for an incredibly long time, in fusion terms. What’s more, they’ve done so using a rather unusual reactor design — a long, cylindrical tube that collides pairs of plasma donuts to produce enormous amounts of heat. The resultant plasma blob is then stabilized with beams of high-energy particles, as explained in the video below: