March 3, 2004

BUBBLES AND FUSION: Quite a few readers have sent me material on these developments relating to ultrasonic fusion. Here’s the press release from Rensselaer:

Physical Review E has announced the publication of an article by a team of researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Purdue University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and the Russian Academy of Science (RAS) stating that they have replicated and extended previous experimental results that indicated the occurrence of nuclear fusion using a novel approach for plasma confinement.

This approach, called bubble fusion, and the new experimental results are being published in an extensively peer-reviewed article titled “Additional Evidence of Nuclear Emissions During Acoustic Cavitation,” which is scheduled to be posted on Physical Review E’s Web site and published in its journal this month.

The research team used a standing ultrasonic wave to help form and then implode the cavitation bubbles of deuterated acetone vapor. The oscillating sound waves caused the bubbles to expand and then violently collapse, creating strong compression shock waves around and inside the bubbles. Moving at about the speed of sound, the internal shock waves impacted at the center of the bubbles causing very high compression and accompanying temperatures of about 100 million Kelvin.

I have no idea whether anything will come of this, but I certainly hope that it works out. I imagine, though, that the path from this sort of laboratory work to actual power generation is likely to be somewhat difficult.

UPDATE: BTW, here’s an earlier post on this subject from 2002. And here’s another.

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