Dry-run Experiments Push Us Closer to Nuclear Fusion Power

Beryllium Liner
Sandia researcher, Ryan McBride, observes central beryllium liner to be imploded by the powerful magnetic field generated by Sandia’s Z machine (Photo by Randy Montoya/Sandia National Laboratories)

It is the holy grail of many physicists. Nuclear fusion, the process of fusing two atomic nuclei together to form a single heavier nucleus, could turn the energy industry on its head. You see nuclear fusion everyday. Just look up at that bright ball of fiery gas in the sky and you’ll see what I mean. The process that occurs everyday on the sun is called nuclear fusion and its by-product is enormous energy. The problem with trying to replicate the process here on earth is that we haven’t been able to reach the “break even” point, which is the point where the amount of energy produced by the reaction exceeds the amount of energy it takes to start it. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have succeeded in a dry-run experiment that draws us one step closer to nuclear fusion power.

Pictured above, a cylindrical tube called a “liner” is subjected to intense electromagnetic pressure by the labs “Z” machine thereby causing it to implode. The process is called MagLIF (Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion). The tube is intended to eventually be filled with nuclear fuel called deuterium (AKA heavy hydrogen). In theory, if the liner can maintain its cylindrical integrity while being crushed by the incredible magnetic pressure, it should essentially squeeze these deuterium atoms in a manner that would create a fusion reaction. The problem is to find the sweet spot to make this happen. If the liner is too thick, then it will take too much energy to produce the reaction. If it is too thin, then the liner will be ripped to shreds before the reaction can take place. The cylindrical beryllium liners fared pretty well in the recent experiments. Researchers plan to perform a couple more MagLIF concepts in experiments this December, which will incorporate lasers to preheat the core fuel to put more energy into the experiment prior to the magnetic pulses, and additional coils at the top and bottom of the liner to keep possible fuel elements from leaking out. They hope to test the full concept by the end of 2013.

For more information, visit Sandia National Laboratories website at http://www.sandia.gov.

 

AMD A-Series APUs Announced; Promises 10.5 Hours of Battery Life

Today, AMD has announced its next-generation of APUs (Accelerated Processing Unit) for users who need more computing power.

AMD offers the new A-series of APUs in two dual-core and five quad-core flavors. The clock speed of these APUs start from 1.9GHz and go all the up to 2.5GHz, under Turbo mode. The Turbo mode kicks in automatically under conditions of heavy load.

AMD_Fusion

The AMD A-Series APU represents an inflection point for AMD and is perhaps the industry’s biggest architectural change since the invention of the microprocessor,said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager, AMD Products Group. It heralds the arrival of brilliant all-new computing experiences, and enables unprecedented graphics and video performance in notebooks and PCs. Beginning today we are bringing discrete-class graphics to the mainstream.

The A4 range of APUs come with a Radeon HD 6250G clocked at 400Mhz, while the A6 range of chips pack in a Radeon 6250G clocked at 400Mhz. The top rung A8 range of APUs comes with a Radeon HD 6620G, running at 444MHz.

The Radeon chips inside the A series APU are DirectX 11 compatible, and even support standards like HDMI 1.4a, Display Port 1.1 and USB 3.0 and multi-monitor support.

AMD also claims that an A-series APU powered notebook will provide users with a staggering battery life of 10.5 hours. HP has already announced 11 new laptops powered by these new APUs from AMD, scheduled to be launched sometime in June-end, early July.