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NASA lands on a middle path to nuclear fusion

Earlier this year, a team of scientists based at NASA’s Glenn Research Center reported on a novel, promising method for generating nuclear fusion reactions in solid-state materials they termed “lattice confinement fusion.” 

The experimental results and theoretical analysis were published in separate articles in the April issue of the authoritative nuclear physics journal Physical Review C.

Apart from their great scientific interest, the results demonstrate a novel approach to realizing nuclear fusion as a practical energy source, one that exploits the so-called “electron screening” effect to drastically increase the rates of fusion and other nuclear reactions.

As I shall explain below, “electron screening” is a well-known phenomenon in the fusion field but the magnitude of the effect obtained in the reported experiments is much larger than previously expected. The reason evidently lies in the special physical environment created inside the crystal lattice structure of certain elements. 

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