An emerging theme in science and engineering is the identification and tracking of particles and other phenomena that are fleeting and cannot be tracked either by the human eye or the most powerful microscopes. The Large Hadron Collider is the highest-energy particle collider ever built. It’s an attempt to test the predictions of the theories of particles and high-energy physics, focusing on the most basic elements known or believed to exist.
Another example of a process that takes place amongst the smallest elements of matter is fusion energy, the energy powering the sun and other stars. This process occurs when nuclei of gas in the sun, including hydrogen and helium, become hot enough to produce collisions where fusion of elements takes place. At the center of our sun temperatures reach 15 million degrees centigrade.
The following image shows the reaction that takes place in a doughnut shaped fusion reactor. In this image (below) we are seeing the forced merger of two atoms of hydrogen, in this case, the isotopes deuterium and tritium. When this occurs helium is formed as well as neutron particles. The loss of mass in this process is converted to energy released in the form of heat. Very high temperatures, as high as 150 million degrees centigrade, are required to overcome strong repulsive forces that keep atoms apart. The entire reaction takes place in a “magnetic field” created by strong electromagnets. When neutrons are given off in this reaction they come in contact with the lining of the fusion reactor’s vacuum chamber and transferred their heat to its walls. The heat is then used to create steam, producing electricity.
A New Gift From Prometheus
Should humans learn how to use this Promethean gift of fusion energy, it is widely believed our energy woes will be solved for millenia to come. IndustryTap has written about: “High Octane Attempt To Birth A Baby Sun” and “Can Fusion Energy Generate Unlimited Clean Energy by 2017?” We also covered the great engineering challenges of the 21st century by the National Academy of Engineering which lists fusion energy as one of the most significant challenges we face.
Fusion Reactions Now Observable
Sorlox Corporation, a company involved in the study and production of fusion energy has developed a “specialized imaging” (SIM) “SIM-D8” high-speed framing camera that captures up to 32 images at 1 billion frames per second (fps). The camera is controlled via remote ethernet and provides engineers with the capability of comprehensively adjusting triggering options, timing controls, and image enhancement functions.
The camera has up to 16 separate optical channels enabling simultaneous capture of images on multiple channels. In short, the SIM-D8 allows ultrafast recording of two-dimensional images helping characterize the behavior of plasma inside Sorlox’s fusion reactor aka the “Nautilus Compressor”. In the future, Sorlox hopes to integrate “streak cameras” so that streak and framing data can be captured and more powerful and analyses of plasma events carried out.