Energy is the core of the rapid development of human science and technology. Since entering the era of science and technology, the reason why human beings can make such rapid progress is closely related to the rapid development of energy. It is the continuous breakthroughs and advances in energy that enable science and technology to make leaps one after another, and to step out of the earth and into space exploration.
It is precisely because scientists see the importance of energy for human civilization that they continue to study and explore new energy, hoping to keep human civilization developing at a high speed and quickly enter the interstellar civilization. However, with the continuous progress of human civilization, the development of energy has not shown a constant growth mode like science and technology, especially in the past 50 years, there has been no major breakthrough in energy.
I believe many people know that the manned landing on the moon was realized 50 years ago, and Apollo 11 was a great feat. The reason why man was able to land on the moon 50 years ago is that there has been a major breakthrough in energy, which can send heavier aircraft into space. However, 50 years later, we still need to face many difficulties if we want to carry out a manned lunar landing.
It can be said that the technology of human landing on the moon has not made much progress compared with 50 years ago. Basically, it is still in the same place. Why is that so? The reason is not that we have not achieved a qualitative breakthrough in energy in the past 50 years. Since mankind entered the era of science and technology, it has been developing and researching fossil energy, and the research and application of fossil energy has been subversive nearly 50 years ago.
The potential of fossil energy has been explored to the extreme, and it is difficult to make a breakthrough. It is because of the restriction of energy that there has been no real breakthrough in human space science and technology in the past 50 years. If we want to go into space, we still need the boost of big rockets, not free access to the earth.
In fact, scientists have realized the limitation of fossil energy 50 years ago. If human beings can’t break through the limitation of fossil energy and develop more powerful new energy, the development pace of human civilization will slow down and may regress in the future, trapped on the earth forever and unable to become an interstellar civilization. In the end, resources will be exhausted and human civilization will come to an end.
Therefore, 50 years ago, scientists began a great energy research related to the fate of mankind, that is, controllable nuclear fusion. As for nuclear energy, I believe we all know that at the end of World War II, the United States released two atomic bombs to Japan, which made the people of the world realize the horror of nuclear energy for the first time. Then human beings began to explore nuclear energy.
The application of nuclear energy has two directions, one is nuclear fission, the other is nuclear fusion. Nuclear fission is the lowest level of nuclear energy applications, although the energy is powerful, but the side effects are more, the biggest side effect is strong nuclear radiation. The powerful side effects of nuclear fission make it impossible for it to really become an energy source available to the whole people.
Nuclear fusion, on the other hand, is an advanced application mode of nuclear energy. Its energy level is far higher than that of nuclear fission, and it is also a very clean and stable energy source. It will not cause any pollution to the environment. In many people’s cognition of nuclear fusion, we all know that the reaction inside the sun is nuclear fusion. From the power of stars, we can see how powerful nuclear fusion is.
Scientists also saw the importance of nuclear fusion for the rapid development of human civilization, so they began their research and exploration 50 years ago. At that time, many scientists made bold suggestions that human beings could realize controllable nuclear fusion technology within 50 years and let it replace fossil energy. But now 50 years later, has controlled fusion been realized?
It is estimated that many people know that the controllable nuclear fusion studied by scientists is still very far away from real realization. Only when we enter this research field can we know how difficult it is to realize it. So how difficult is controllable fusion? Why are scientists still making slow progress after more than half a century of research and exploration?
Nuclear fusion is very simple in many people’s eyes, because its fuel is a large amount of hydrogen in the universe, and the nuclear fusion material in stars is hydrogen, and hydrogen is a ubiquitous substance in both the universe and the earth. Since the raw material of nuclear fusion is hydrogen, which is ubiquitous in the universe, why is it so difficult for us to realize it when it comes to stars and the sun?
In fact, it is not very accurate that the fuel of nuclear fusion is hydrogen. Yes, hydrogen is indeed a universal substance in the universe, which is inexhaustible and also a fuel for nuclear fusion. But the fuel of nuclear fusion is not the direct application of hydrogen in our cognition. If so, it will be simple. You know, the most important thing the earth needs is a lot of sea water, which can decompose countless hydrogen.
The fuel of nuclear fusion is three isotopes of hydrogen: protium, deuterium and tritium. Among the three hydrogen isotopes, protium is the most abundant, accounting for 99.98%, while deuterium is very small, accounting for about 0.02% in nature. Tritium has a half-life of 12.33 years, so it is difficult to exist for a long time in nature.
For the sun, it is easy for deuterium to reach the fusion condition, but the content of deuterium is very small, and it has reached the fusion condition and burned out in the brown dwarf stage of the sun (more than 13mj (mass of Jupiter)). Therefore, in the era of the main sequence star of the sun, the burning starts from protium. But the fusion of protium is very, very difficult, far from being explored by the current human technology.
So scientists have to take another road, that is, the fusion reaction of deuterium and tritium, but it is also very difficult to achieve this. It needs to meet the conditions of extremely high temperature and pressure in the core, which can be easily achieved in the interior of stars. However, it is very difficult for human beings to achieve such conditions.
There are several key points in the realization of nuclear fusion, one of which is to achieve a high temperature of tens of millions of degrees, and there must be a container that can hold such a high temperature. But at present, we don’t have any kind of container that can hold the high temperature of more than 10 million degrees. At present, our most high temperature resistant material is ta4hfc5. Its melting point is 4215 ℃, but it is not a fraction of the high temperature of tens of millions of degrees.
If we wait for the development of human science and technology to come up with this kind of high temperature resistant material and then study nuclear fusion, it may not be realized in a few hundred years. It is very difficult to make a breakthrough in material science and technology. At present, our high temperature resistant materials are far from being able to resist the high temperature of more than 10 million degrees. It is a very ideal situation to achieve it in hundreds of years.
Without this ultra-high temperature material, can controllable nuclear fusion never be realized? Of course not. Scientists have come up with another way, which is to control it through a magnetic field. The magnetic field is a very mysterious and powerful force. If we can master it, we can master the power of nature. However, our understanding and application of magnetic field is still very weak.
Scientists expect to be able to restrict the magnetic field to achieve the birth of ultra-high temperature, such as using the transformation current to generate the magnetic field to heat the circulating plasma. Magnetic confinement fusion device is also the main direction for scientists to explore controllable nuclear fusion technology. Although this direction is normal in theory, there are still many challenges to achieve controllable nuclear fusion through magnetic confinement.
Although there are many difficulties in the exploration of controllable nuclear clustering, human beings want to get rid of the shackles of the earth and realize the continuation and development of human civilization. Controllable nuclear fusion technology is inevitable. Only when it is realized can fossil energy be completely replaced. Without the use of fossil energy, the ecological pollution of the earth will be solved, and the earth’s ecology will gradually recover and become better.
Controllable nuclear fusion is only a small application to solve the problem of environmental pollution, and its more important application is space exploration. Once the controllable nuclear fusion is realized, the power energy of the spacecraft will make a qualitative breakthrough. At that time, the speed of the spacecraft may realize the preliminary sub light speed flight. With this speed, we can not only get out of the solar system, but also exploit and utilize the space resources. Mankind will completely get rid of the threat of the depletion of earth’s resources and enter the interstellar age.
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