Archive for the ‘nuclear energy’ category

Nov 28, 2023

Wild New Study Suggests We Could Use Tiny Black Holes as Sources of Nuclear Power

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, nuclear energy

The notion of black holes is one that invokes terror and dread. They’re inescapable! They devour everything! Nothing ever comes out!

The accuracy of these beliefs falls on the spectrum of debatable to incorrect. And a pair of physicists has now calculated how proverbial blood might be wrung from the black hole stone. According to Zhan-Feng Mai and Run-Qiu Yang of Tianjin University in China, teeny tiny black holes could theoretically be used as a source of power.

Their calculations find that these ultradense objects could work as rechargeable batteries and nuclear reactors, providing energy on the scale of gigaelectronvolts.

Nov 28, 2023

Black Holes Could Be Used As Batteries Or Nuclear Reactors

Posted by in categories: cosmology, nuclear energy, particle physics

Now that’s forward thinking but it’ll be a long while. But that’s science!

Nothing escapes black holes, but over the decades researchers have worked out ways to get some energy out of them. Some happen naturally, and some energy can be stolen in clever ways. Now, researchers have worked out novel approaches to use black holes as power sources, suggesting that they can be used as either batteries or nuclear reactors.

The assumption of this study is a Schwarzschild black hole – one that has no electric charge or angular momentum. So, it’s neutral and it doesn’t spin. By dropping charged particles on it, the black holes can be made to have a static electric field – and suddenly, you have the makings of a battery.

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Nov 28, 2023

Understanding charged particles helps physicists simulate element creation in stars

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, particle physics

New research from North Carolina State University and Michigan State University opens a new avenue for modeling low-energy nuclear reactions, which are key to the formation of elements within stars. The research lays the groundwork for calculating how nucleons interact when the particles are electrically charged.

The work appears in Physical Review Letters.

Predicting the ways that —clusters of protons and neutrons, together referred to as nucleons—combine to form larger compound nuclei is an important step toward understanding how elements are formed within stars.

Nov 27, 2023

NASA is Getting the Plutonium it Needs for Future Missions

Posted by in categories: alien life, government, nuclear energy

Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs) have a long history of service in space exploration. Since the first was tested in space in 1961, RTGs have gone on to be used by 31 NASA missions, including the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Packages (ALSEPs) delivered by the Apollo astronauts to the lunar surface. RTGs have also powered the Viking 1 and 2 missions to Mars, the Ulysses mission to the Sun, Galileo mission to Jupiter, and the Pioneer, Voyager, and New Horizons missions to the outer Solar System – which are currently in (or well on their way to) interstellar space.

In recent years, RTGs have allowed the Curiosity and Perseverance rovers to continue the search for evidence of past (and maybe present) life on Mars. In the coming years, these nuclear batteries will power more astrobiology missions, like the Dragonfly mission that will explore Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. In recent years, there has been concern that NASA was running low on Plutonium-238, the key component for RTGs. Luckily, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently delivered a large shipment of plutonium oxide, putting it on track to realize its goal of regular production of the radioisotopic material.

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Nov 26, 2023

Japan firm uses telecom AI to detect flaws in nuclear fusion reactor

Posted by in categories: information science, nuclear energy, robotics/AI, surveillance

Japan’s Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) is applying its Deep Anomaly Surveillance (DeAnoS) artificial intelligence tool, originally designed for telecom networks, to predict anomalies in nuclear fusion reactors.

DeAnoS is like a detective, trying to understand which part of the equation is making things weird.

Atomic fusion reactors are at the forefront of scientific innovation, harnessing the enormous energy released by atomic nuclei fusion. This process, which is similar to the Sun’s power source, involves the union of two light atomic nuclei, which results in the development of a heavier nucleus and the release of a massive quantity of energy.

Nov 22, 2023

Why North Korea may use nuclear weapons first, and why current US policy toward Pyongyang is unsustainable

Posted by in categories: existential risks, military, nuclear energy, policy

I suggest two responses to this difficult challenge for the United States and its allies: At the time of attack, the allies should respond with nonnuclear retaliation as long as politically feasible, in order to prevent further nuclear escalation. However, this will be difficult given the likely post-strike panic and hysteria. So, in preparation, the US should deconcentrate its northeast Asian conventional footprint, to reduce North Korean opportunities to engage in nuclear blackmail regarding regional American clusters of military equipment and personnel, and to reduce potential US casualties and consequent massive retaliation pressures if North Korea does launch a nuclear attack.

North Korean first-use incentives. The incentives for North Korea to use nuclear weapons first in a major conflict are powerful:

Operationally, North Korea will likely have only a very short time window to use its weapons of mass destruction. The Americans will almost certainly try to immediately suppress Northern missiles. An imminent, massive US-South Korea disarming strike creates an extreme use-it-or-lose-it dilemma for Pyongyang. If Kim Jong-Un does not use his nuclear weapons at the start of hostilities, most will be destroyed a short time later by allied airpower, turning an inter-Korean conflict into a conventional war that the North will probably lose. Frighteningly, this may encourage Kim to also release his strategic nuclear weapons almost immediately after fighting begins.

Nov 20, 2023

Researchers engineer nanoparticles using ion irradiation to advance clean energy, fuel conversion

Posted by in categories: chemistry, engineering, nanotechnology, nuclear energy, particle physics

MIT researchers and colleagues have demonstrated a way to precisely control the size, composition, and other properties of nanoparticles key to the reactions involved in a variety of clean energy and environmental technologies. They did so by leveraging ion irradiation, a technique in which beams of charged particles bombard a material.

They went on to show that created this way have superior performance over their conventionally made counterparts.

“The materials we have worked on could advance several technologies, from fuel cells to generate CO2-free electricity to the production of clean hydrogen feedstocks for the [through electrolysis cells],” says Bilge Yildiz, leader of the work and a professor in MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering and Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Nov 16, 2023

What’s coming next for fusion research

Posted by in category: nuclear energy

A year ago, scientists generated net energy with a fusion reactor. This is what’s happened since then.

Nov 16, 2023

Supersonic nuclear-powered plane would fly from London to New York in less time than a soccer game

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, transportation

Now that’s cool but you will probably only see rich people flying in it for a while, if it comes to be.

The supersonic, nuclear-powered plane concept flies nearly twice the speed of Concorde and could get from London to New York in less time than a soccer game.

Nov 9, 2023

Investments to be a Critical Determinant of Fusion Endeavors

Posted by in categories: economics, nuclear energy

The nuclear fusion industry witnessed tremendous developments in 2023. The year 2022 drew its curtains with the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Lab producing a fusion reaction in the laboratory that yielded more energy than was absorbed by the fuel to initiate it. The reaction yielded 1.3 megajoules of energy, about five times the 250 kilojoules that were absorbed by the capsule. This scientific breakthrough sparked an increase in investments in 2023 with new companies joining the race.

The Fusion Industry Association, or FIA, compiled the “Global Fusion Industry Report” of 2023. Pressing for fusion energy to take over as a cleaner source of energy, FIA presented a comprehensive overview of the advancements made in the second quarter of the year in this report. It highlights the effect of a successful ignition or net energy gain in nuclear fusion and its economic consequences.

FIA observed a net increase in investments in the fusion power industry. With $1.4 billion more than the previous year, 27 companies in fusion were able to draw $46 billion in investment. The ignition inspired the emergence of newer and smaller companies which contributed the majority share of the surge in investments. There are two reported big chequeholders securing funding over $100 million in the 2nd quarter—TAE Technologies in California and ENN in China.

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