In April of 2020, NASA researchers announced they had come up with a new approach to fusion that has the potential to power missions into deep space, and maybe even future laptops here on Earth. This is really exciting news as when it comes to making energy, nuclear fusion is the ultimate goal because of the promise it holds of clean limitless energy that is available on demand.
Unlike nuclear fission, where heavy atoms are split to generate energy, fusion is accomplished by smashing lighter elements together so they combine. This new team of researchers are taking a closer look at something called lattice confinement fusion, where they use atoms of a solid piece of metal like erbium or titanium as a lattice and crammed the spaces in between with deuterium gas until the lattice started to break apart. Eventually, the whole thing was so full of deuterium one researcher described it as more like a powder than a lump of metal.
Find out more about the future of nuclear fusion and this new path being explored by a team of scientists partially from NASA’s Glenn Research Center in this Elements.