The Possibilities of Achieving Clean Energy with Proton-Boron Fusion

Category Technology

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The U.S. Department of Energy's INFUSE project is partnering with HB11 Energy to research novel hydrogen-boron fuel targets in order to develop clean and safe fusion energy. It is the first of the public-private-partnership programs aiming to achieve a fusion power plant on a decadal time-scale. This method could produce a low-carbon, abundant source of clean energy without the financial and environmental costs associated with other approaches.

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The program will provide access to world-leading expertise from the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) at the University of Rochester, an institutional partner of the National Ignition Facility which recently demonstrated net energy gain from laser fusion. Led by HB11 Energy’s Prof. Thomas Mehlhorn and Prof. Adam Sefkow from LLE, the research will be focused on innovative hydrogen-boron fuel targets in its program to develop clean and safe fusion energy.

HB11 Energy is Vice-Chaired by Nobel Laureates in Physics Prof Heinrich Hora and Prof Theodor Haensch

INFUSE is one of the first public-private-partnership (PPP) programs established to accelerate fusion energy R&D in partnership with the private sector as part of a broader vision announced by the White House to realise a fusion power plant on a decadal time-scale. To achieve this vision, the DoE is planning a greater PPP program, which is expected to be based on the NASA COTS program that supported SpaceX and established the commercial space launch industry.

The laser used in the experiments is the cutting-edge PG/PG-II laser of the Laboratory for Laser Energetics

The project will see hydrogen-boron developed as an alternative fuel to the deuterium-tritium used in most other fusion approaches, which faces enormous challenges to reach economic viability. Bypassing many of these challenges, the HB11 Energy technology uses a laser to drive the aneutronic hydrogen-boron-11 fusion reaction enabling a clean, safe, reliable and virtually unlimited source of energy that uses abundant fuels resulting in little or no harmful waste. "It is a great honour to us all at HB11 Energy to have the DoE’s fusion program supporting our world-leading researchers and their scientific developments towards hydrogen-boron fusion energy generation—an approach previously thought by many to be impossible," said Dr. Warren McKenzie, founder & Managing Director of HB11. "We are now one step closer to realising the 1970s theories of our co-founder Professor Hora. Being aneutronic, the technology pathway to a functioning HB11 fusion energy reactor is significantly less complicated and therefore, shorter and much less expensive than any other proposed method of fusion energy. HB11 Energy’s technologies could create the world’s safest, most economic, lowest-carbon source of abundant clean energy." .

The PPP is led by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fusion Energy Sciences, and it has provided USD 1.7 million to fund the project

The new research published in the special issue analyses novel approaches to laser-driven hydrogen-boron fusion energy and the applications of high-brightness alpha-particle sources by the world leading physicists including members of HB11 Energy’s Scientific Advisory Board: .

Fabio Belloni, nuclear physicist at the University of New South Wales, who has shown that by exploiting suprathermal effects, proton-boron fusion can be achieved at lower temperatures than previously thought, opening the possibility of ignition and fusion burn.

The study's published results are based on experiments conducted at the NIF, a facility funded by the DOE and operated by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Thomas A. Mehlhorn, whopresented a roadmap to exploit these newly understood suprathermal effects in a scheme to achieve nonequilibrium thermonuclear burn as a novel strategy to achieve net-energy-gain and economically viable fusion energy from laser driven proton boron fusion.

According to HB11 Energy, the National Ignition Facility’s net energy gain breakthrough, which also observed suprathermal effects in recent experiments, brings greater focus to the possiblities presented by HB11 Energy’s approach to delivering clean energy from the world’s safest fusion technology.

The project is expected to develop a prototype nuclear fusion reactor by the end of 2019

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