UK-based energy generation research company First Light Fusion (FLF) has tested one of the six limbs of its newly constructed pulsed power machine, dubbed Machine 3.
The successful test of Machine 3 is claimed to be an important step in the company’s research efforts into energy generation via inertial confinement fusion.
Fusion is said to be the ultimate source of the universe’s energy and is the same process that powers stars, including the sun.
Built with an investment of £3.6m, Machine 3 has been designed to discharge up to 200,000 volts and in excess of 14 million ampere, which is equivalent to nearly 500 simultaneous lightning strikes within a time frame of two microseconds.
FLF noted that the machine uses approximately 3km of high-voltage cables and another 10km of diagnostic cables.
With the successful test, FLF will now focus on achieving ‘gain’, wherein the amount of energy generated exceeds that used to spur the reaction.
FLF founder and CEO Nicholas Hawker said: “These were test shots but are very important nevertheless because they were the first ‘end-to-end’ tests of Machine 3.
“The successful outcome de-risks the rest of the project because it was based on one of the six limbs of the device. The other five limbs are exact replicas of the one we tested.
“It was a fantastic achievement for the team to be able to fire the first test shot just five months from the beginning of construction of what will be a unique facility once fully commissioned. There is nothing else like it in the world.”
FLF claims that its approach to fusion is safe, clean and has the potential to transform the world’s energy supply if it can be applied successfully to the power generation.
Machine 3, which is claimed to be the only pulsed power machine of its scale in the world, is on track to be commissioned into service by the end of this year.