Patents Secured for Revolutionary Nuclear Fusion Technology
Scientists in Australia are making some astonishing claims about a new nuclear reactor technology. Startup HB11, which spun out of the University of New South Wales, has applied for and received patents in the U.S., Japan, and China so far. The company’s technology uses lasers to trigger a nuclear fusion reaction in hydrogen and boron—purportedly with no radioactive fuel required. The secret is a cutting-edge laser and, well, an element of luck.
The laser doesn’t heat the materials. Instead, it speeds up the hydrogen to the point where it (hopefully) collides with the boron to begin a reaction.
“You could say we’re using the hydrogen as a dart, and hoping to hit a boron, and if we hit one, we can start a fusion reaction,” managing director Warren McKenzie told New Atlas. He says HB11’s approach is “more precise” than designs that use heat to approach fusion because in those reactors, everything is heated in the hope that something will collide.
When the lucky hydrogen does fuse with a boron particle, the reaction throws off helium atoms whose lack of electrons means they’re positively charged. It’s this charge that the device gathers as electricity.
The overall idea was developed by UNSW emeritus professor Heinrich Hora, who says in a statement he’s been “investigating a laser-boron fusion approach for over four decades at UNSW.”
The laser itself is a landmark invention as well—without it, Hora could likely not have created a working idea and patented it after those four decades of research. In 2018, three scientists split the Nobel Prize in Physics for the decades-old chirped pulse laser, including the first woman recipient since Marie Curie….