Tritium: Radioactive Form of Hydrogen Could Provide Unlimited Energy
The Z Machine, the largest frequency electromagnetic wave generator in the world kept at New Mexico-based Sandia National Laboratories, will soon start emitting 500 times more energy than its present capacity.
Researchers will be introducing tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, to the fuel to power the machine. The fuel will consist of a mixture of tritium and deuterium in the ratio 1:1 because of which the machine will be capable of firing 80 times extra neutrons as the fuel blends with this enormous magnetic field.
The powerful machine has been used for a long time to provide vital data for computer simulations. It has tested the nuclear stockpile of the U.S. without the requirement for exploding weapons. Astrophysicists utilize it to recreate the conditions of the stars and planet cores. On firing, the electromagnetic field created by the machine crushes fuel that has been already warmed, which leads to fusion.
Researchers are of the view that the generated pressures built by magnetism and electricity can lead to nuclear fusion for producing energy. By introducing tritium, the upper limit of the neutron will be pushed way above its normal limit.
According to Mike Cuneo from Pulsed Power Accelerator Science and Technology, this concept was not feasible before, but the team is working hard on it now. Even now, researchers are in their early stages of the process of introducing tritium, and it may take at least three years for the 50/50 mix to take place.
So far, there are only two laboratories using tritium: the Laboratory for Laser Energetics and Lawrence Livmore National Laboratory.
Despite the development, tritium can pose a risk to the environment, and researchers have started taking some serious precautions. Some state that it might stick to the wall of the machine and can be a potential hazard since technicians have to enter every day for cleaning purposes after it's fired.