Scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico are about to start experiments with “plasma guns” in the hope of achieving controlled nuclear fusion—a source of clean and near limitless energy.
Nuclear fusion is the way the sun generates power. It involves two small, lighter nuclei joining together to create one heavy nucleus. When they join together, energy is released. However, achieving this in a stable state, meaning the energy can be harnessed, is extremely difficult. High pressures and temperatures of around 150 million degrees Celsius are required.
Generally scientists have been focused on producing fusion energy in two types of devices— tokamaks and stellarators. These are donut-shaped devices that use magnets to confine the plasma—a state of matter—in which the fusion reactions can take place. The problem with these devices is stability. Like reactions on the sun, fusion can produce flares, which can damage their walls. Researchers are currently working on suspending plasma in a stable state to the point where energy can be harnessed at an economic level.
Full article at: Newsweek