A colossal nuclear fusion plasma cannon developed by the US armed forces is due to be completed next year.
The Plasma Liner Experiment has 36 plasma guns – 18 of which have already been installed – that surround the spherical chamber. These guns are designed to shoot plasma jets of ionized gas into the chamber, targeting, compressing, and heating a cloud of fusion fuel inside. The plasma guns are set back from the machine so they can fire rapidly and lower the chances of the sensitive machinery being damaged during the reaction.
It will use the same type of reaction when it turns on as the reaction which powers the Sun.
Dr Samuel Langendorf, the lead scientist on the project and a member of the lab’s Experimental Physics group said: “We will conduct experiments this year to study the formation of a hemispherical liner with 18 guns installed.
“We hope to complete the installation of the remaining 18 guns in early 2020 and to be conducting fully spherical experiments by the end of 2020.
Besides creating space-age nuclear weapons, some people think harnessing nuclear fusion correctly could lead to a limitless clean energy source.
Nuclear fusion occurs when atoms are smashed together. Nuclear fusion is known for being unstable and almost impossible to contain. However, it’s desirable because it produces almost limitless energy and less radioactive waste than nuclear fission.
The scientists are hoping that their experiment will pay off and they’ll be harnessing control of nuclear fusion as early as next year.