Till startsida
Sitemap
To content Read more about how we use cookies on gu.se

Ultra-dense deuterium may be the nuclear fuel of the future

News: Apr 28, 2009

A material that is a hundred thousand times heavier than water and more dense than the core of the Sun is being produced at the University of Gothenburg. The scientists working with this material are aiming for an energy process that is both more sustainable and less damaging to the environment than the nuclear power used today.

Imagine a material so heavy that a cube with sides of length 10 cm weights 130 tonnes, a material whose density is significantly greater than the material in the core of the Sun. Such a material is being produced and studied by scientists in Atmospheric Science at the Department of Chemistry, the University of Gothenburg.

Towards commercial use

So far, only microscopic amounts of the new material have been produced. New measurements that have been published in two scientific journals, however, have shown that the distance between atoms in the material is much smaller than in normal matter. Leif Holmlid, Professor in the Department of Chemistry, believes that this is an important step on the road to commercial use of the material.
The material is produced from heavy hydrogen, also known as deuterium, and is therefore known as “ultra-dense deuterium”. It is believed that ultra-dense deuterium plays a role in the formation of stars, and that it is probably present in giant planets such as Jupiter.

An efficient fuel

So what can this super-heavy material be used for?
“One important justification for our research is that ultra-dense deuterium may be a very efficient fuel in laser driven nuclear fusion. It is possible to achieve nuclear fusion between deuterium nuclei using high-power lasers, releasing vast amounts of energy”, says Leif Holmlid.
The laser technology has long been tested on frozen deuterium, known as “deuterium ice”, but results have been poor. It has proved to be very difficult to compress the deuterium ice sufficiently for it to attain the high temperature required to ignite the fusion.

Energy source of the future

Ultra-dense deuterium is a million times more dense than frozen deuterium, making it relatively easy to create a nuclear fusion reaction using high-power pulses of laser light.
“If we can produce large quantities of ultra-dense deuterium, the fusion process may become the energy source of the future. And it may become available much earlier than we have thought possible”, says Leif Holmlid.
“Further, we believe that we can design the deuterium fusion such that it produces only helium and hydrogen as its products, both of which are completely non-hazardous. It will not be necessary to deal with the highly radioactive tritium that is planned for use in other types of future fusion reactors, and this means that laser-driven nuclear fusion as we envisage it will be both more sustainable and less damaging to the environment than other methods that are being developed.”

Contact:
Leif Holmlid, Atmospheric Science, Department of Chemistry, the University of Gothenburg
Tel: 46 (0)31 772 2832
holmlid@chem.gu.se

Deuterium – brief facts
Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen that is found in large quantities in water, more than one atom per ten thousand hydrogen atoms has a deuterium nucleus. The isotope is denoted “2H” or “D”, and is normally known as “heavy hydrogen”. Deuterium is used in a number of conventional nuclear reactors in the form of heavy water (D2O), and it will probably also be used as fuel in fusion reactors in the future.

The photograph shows an experiment in which dense deuterium is irradiated by a laser. The white glow in the container in the centre of the photograph is from deuterium. Photo: Leif Holmlid.

 

BY:
46 (0)31 786 49 12

Originally published on: science.gu.se

News

  • Many older people's glasses of wrong power

    [14 Jan 2020] Overall, Swedish 70-year-olds' eyesight is good, but many could see even better. Six in ten can improve their vision by getting eyeglasses or changing the power of the glasses they already have, according to a new study from the University of Gothenburg.

  • Follow our researchers from Antarctica

    [8 Jan 2020] Two scholars from the University of Gothenburg are on their way to Antarctica to document at research station raised during Otto Nordenskjöld¿s polar expedition over a hundred years ago. Their work can now be monitored through a blog.

  • The Vikings erected a runestone out of fear of a climate catastrophe

    [8 Jan 2020] Several passages on the Rök stone - the world's most famous Viking Age runic monument - suggest that the inscription is about battles and for over a hundred years, researchers have been trying to connect the inscription with heroic deeds in war. Now, thanks to an interdisciplinary research project, a new interpretation of the inscription is being presented. The study shows that the inscription deals with an entirely different kind of battle: the conflict between light and darkness, warmth and cold, life and death.

  • The majority consider themselves more environmentally friendly than others

    [19 Dec 2019] Research from the University of Gothenburg shows that we tend to overestimate our personal environmental commitment. In a study with participants from Sweden, the United States, England, and India, most participants were convinced that they acted more environmentally friendly than the average person.

  • Forgiveness as a gift - good for both the forgiven and the forgiver

    [19 Dec 2019] For many people, the winter holidays are a time for giving gifts, for generosity and charity. Have you ever heard of that forgiveness can be a gift? And that it is good for both the forgiven and the forgiver.

More news

Calendar

To the calendar

Page Manager: Webbredaktionen|Last update: 7/13/2012
Share:

The University of Gothenburg uses cookies to provide you with the best possible user experience. By continuing on this website, you approve of our use of cookies.  What are cookies?

Denna text är utskriven från följande webbsida:
http://iis.gu.se/english/news-events//ultra-dense-deuterium-may-be-the-nuclear-fuel-of-the-future.cid879280?contentId=879280
Utskriftsdatum: 2020-01-21