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Nuclear Fusion-Fission Hybrid: A Possible Solution for Clean Nuclear Power

Nuclear power is one of the most controversial alternative energies, partially due to the toxic waste it creates. Now physicists at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a system that uses fusion to eliminate the transuranic wastes created by nuclear plants.

The scientists’ proposed fusion-fission hybrid reactor contains a Compact Fusion Neutron Source (CFNS) that provides neutrons through fusion to a surrounding fission blanket that uses transuranic waste for nuclear fuel. The neutrons augment the fission reaction, thus giving the waste incineration process efficiency and stability.

The CFNS, which has not yet been built, is based on a tokamak machine that uses a “magnetic bottle” to confine high temperature fusion plasmas.

While the idea for a fusion-fission hybrid has been batted around the scientific community for years, the UT physicists have invented a device that finally makes the CFNS possible: the Super X Divertor. The Divertor can handle the heat and particle fluxes of compact devices, and enables the CFNS to produce large amounts of neutrons without destroying the system.

A prototype fusion-fission hybrid, however, is many years away— UT scientists still have to perform simulations, engineer their device, and seek funding.

Photo Credit: PhysOrg

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Written By

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.


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