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Producing nuclear fusion with the help of cavitation inside a glass of water

Tapping the enormous energy of our sun right here on Earth: A scientist's dream that could come true because of a freak of nature. Theoretically, even in a glass of water...

Prof. Rusi Taleyarkhan trying to achieve a nuclear fusion via acoustic cavitation (sonoluminescence)
Picture by U.S. Department of Energy

It's one of the freaks of nature that sound amazing in a way and unbelievable, although it is part of our everyday life: If you lower the air pressure over a glass of water for example, the water will start boiling at low temperatures. If you lower the pressure enough, even cold water begins to boil. A phenomenon, which, on a small scale, occurs on fast rotating propellers of motorboats. Close to the propeller there are areas where the pressure is very high and areas where it is extremely low. At these points the water starts boiling. Tiny bubbles of vapour are formed, but immediately implode again, because also the pressure changes rapidly again. And now the strange thing happens: When the bubbles collapse they create spots with temperatures of more than 10.000 degrees Celsius on a very small scale and for a very short time. This effect is called cavitation, because small "holes" are formed in the water. In the long run this damages and destroys every ship's propeller, and owners of motorboats can sing a(n expensive) song about it.

Mathematical formula of an electron gas
Picture by Tholos-Systems

While the navy is trying to alleviate the effects of cavitation using every kind of trick, scientists are working feverishly on using this strange phenomenon. In the 1930's, they already found out that such cavitation-bubbles in fluids can also be generated by sound (sonolumiscence), and that they are emitting tiny UV-light flashes when they collapse. Scientists don't know why, yet. Many of them – also the Indian physicist Prof. Rusi Taleyarkhan, who does his research in the United States – think that for a split second, temperatures of one million degrees are reached under extremely high pressure from the energy-rich light flashes occurring during the bubble's collapse. They assume that for a split second there exists a molecular plasma, similar to the one inside our sun.

Under such conditions nuclear fusion is possible. The process of hydrogen fusing to helium generates a surplus of energy, without leaving radioactive waste behind in contrast to nuclear fission.

While al cluster of nations is spending 10 billion Euros for the first test reactor for nuclear fusion in France, which should reach the necessary temperatures and pressures for fusion in an expensive and complex manner, such a nuclear fusion with "bubbles" would be a revolution. It could be achieved by favourable means, and at least simplify and change modern medicine, for example in the range of treatments of tumors.

The cavitation reactor according to plans of Ing. Franz Wagner
Picture by Franz Wagner

Not long ago Rusi Telayarkhan once again caused ripples in the scientists ocean, because he claims to have succeeded in doing the nuclear fusion in a glass of water (actually, for practical reasons, he used acetone instead of water). The professor in an interview with "Articles Extra": "It's still a long way, till we are really able to convince the critics who partially take my activities for nonsense. And that's not easy. Eventually, nobody has understood so far, how those mysterious light flashes are generated."

While the Indian physicist and his team are still doing basic research, an avid tinkerer from the Austrian Innviertel is already one step ahead. Franz Wagner comes from Braunau (Upper Austria) and is a retired electrician. He is already working on a beer crate sized cavitation reactor: Inside the reactor a centrifuge should, with the help of a washing machine's engine, generate cavitation bubbles, which concentrate themselves to a sun-like molecular plasma. Like, in the case of a generator, the energy should then be drawn off by using magnetism.

A method that is not very promising according to the Viennese University physicist Prof. Wolfgang Kummer. But what holds for Franz Wagner, did also hold for Albert Einstein after all: The true spirit of research cannot be misled by pessimists, sceptics or rigid doctrines...

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© A report by Tobias Micke (22-01-06) – Contact