Till startsida
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.”

Leif Holmlid, Atmospheric Science, Department of Chemistry, the University of Gothenburg
Tel: 46 (0)31 772 2832

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.


46 (0)31 786 49 12

Originally published on: science.gu.se


  • AI agents can learn to communicate effectively

    [15 Jul 2020] A multi-disciplinary team of researchers from Chalmers and University of Gothenburg has developed a framework to study how language evolves as an effective tool for describing mental concepts. In a new paper, they show that artificial agents can learn how to communicate in an artificial language similar to human language. The results have been published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

  • Medicine against prostate cancer in new COVID-19 study

    [15 Jul 2020] In a new trial, Swedish researchers will investigate if a medicine normally used to treat prostate cancer can also be used to treat COVID-19 in patients. The desired effect is that the medicine will shorten the course of the disease and the need for intensive care. The drug itself is known to not least affect an enzyme important in prostate cancer cases and in corona infections.

  • Better hip replacements when surgeon operates often

    [14 Jul 2020] The higher the proportion of primary hip replacement operations a surgeon performs annually, the better the results are, a thesis at the University of Gothenburg shows. On the other hand, it makes little difference to the patient whether the operating surgeon is a fully trained specialist in orthopedics or a resident physician being trained as an orthopedic specialist.

  • An ambitious climate policy is economically beneficial

    [13 Jul 2020] An economically optimal climate policy is in line with the Paris Agreement's 2-degree temperature target. This is according to a new study involving the University of Gothenburg, Chalmers University of Technology and others. The study updates the cost/benefit analyses of climate measures made by Economics Laureate William Nordhaus.

  • Gut microbiota provide clues for treating diabetes

    [13 Jul 2020] The individual mix of microorganisms in the human gastrointestinal tract provides vital clues as to how any future incidence of type 2 diabetes can be predicted, prevented and treated. This is demonstrated in a population study led from the University of Gothenburg.

More news

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

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:
Utskriftsdatum: 2020-08-05