Magazine article UN Chronicle

Bringing Star Power to Earth

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Bringing Star Power to Earth

Article excerpt

GREEN TECHNOLOGY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

The international community is threatened by a global energy crisis, climate, and ecosystem changes due to global warming, as well as water and food contamination. The whole world faces tremendous challenges in closing the gap between projected energy demand and the supply of sustainable, carbon-free, affordable energy. Today, about 80 per cent of the world's total primary energy demand is met by fossil fuel which emits significant quantities of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere. An inherently secure supply from safe, environmentally sustainable, and commercially viable sources is needed in order to meet the capacity of the global demand for baseload energy requirements--the minimum constant demands.

As ecological destruction has a universal effect on the entire planet and requires global awareness, green technology development needs to be implemented as a global project. The development of green technology provides the way to maximize the synergistic outcome of protecting the environment and fostering global economic growth. To meet this development, the construction of a global research network has never been more important.

Mankind is now in the quest for new energy sources the holy grail of the ultimate, renewable, energy that can meet global baseload power requirements while addressing environmental concerns. Renewable energy sources such as solar, photovoltaic, wind, and hydropower will play an essential role in meeting this challenge, but will also require huge storage capacity or available land in order to meet the majority baseload power requirements of most countries. The conventional nuclear fission type energy offers many advantages, but it requires addressing the safety and proliferation problems associated with enrichment, reprocessing, and high-level waste storage. As a result, the majority of global baseload electricity needs are not expected to be met.

The main alternative for an energy source with zero carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel is nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion is generated when two light atomic nuclei fuse together and form a heavier nucleus. The leading designs for controlled fusion research use either magnetic or laser inertial confinement of a plasma, with the heat from the fusion reactions used to operate a steam turbine which, in turn, drives electric generators.

Despite tantalizing benefits of nuclear fusion energy, the laser inertial approach was largely ignored in energy policies because the technology was viewed as too immature to affect energy projection over the next few decades, when it will be needed most. However, the success in March 2009 of the Laser Inertial Fusion Energy (LIFE) experiment conducted by the National Ignition Facility (NIP) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California (LLNL), provided a new paradigm in the ever changing technology for green growth and sustainable development.

GLOBAL INSTITUTE OF LASER TECHNOLOGY

In response to the need for safe, secure, environmentally sustainable energy, the Global Institute of Laser Technology (GILT) was established in May 2009 by forming a global network of universities, research institutes, and industries in the field of laser fusion energy at Handong Global University (HGU) in Pohang, Republic of Korea. On 2 December 2011, HGU signed an agreement with the LLNL to promote collaboration in the design and development of power plants based on LIFE for an abundant, inherently safe, low carbon, cost-effective, and low waste source of baseload electricity. The LIFE plant design located at LLNL builds on the geometry and performance of NIF. Completed in 2009, NIF is the largest scientific project ever built by the United States Department of Energy. NIF is designed to deliver net energy gain (more fusion energy output than input from the laser beams). NIF's 192 laser beams can direct nearly 2 Mega joules of ultraviolet laser energy in billionths of a second to a fusion target, creating a condition similar to that which exists only in the core of stars and giant planets. …

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