by Christine Lepisto, Berlin on 11.14.10
Image: Sandia National Laboratories
Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have announced a breakthrough that could lead to break-even nuclear fusion reactions within 2-3 years. The goal of nuclear fusion research is to make energy from sea water, producing only the harmless gas helium as a result of the fusion reaction. It is the holy grail of clean, sustainable energy, the same process that powers our sun.
The nuclear fusion efforts involve research at the cutting edge of physics, where one of the avenues of exploration goes by the name "Z-pinch" (which should gain the technique immediate street cred should it be successful). So what is a Z-pinch? And how could it power the future?