Fusion of quark doubly heavy baryons would generate eight times more power than regular fusion

In nuclear fusion, energy is produced by the rearrangement of protons and neutrons. There is theoretical work that indicates that quark fusion would generate eight times more power than hydrogen fusion.

Nature – Quark-level analogue of nuclear fusion with doubly heavy baryons

The essence of nuclear fusion is that energy can be released by the rearrangement of nucleons between the initial- and final-state nuclei. The recent discovery1 of the first doubly charmed baryon which contains two charm quarks (c) and one up quark (u) and has a mass of about 3,621 megaelectronvolts (MeV) (the mass of the proton is 938 MeV) also revealed a large binding energy of about 130 MeV between the two charm quarks. Here we report that this strong binding enables a quark-rearrangement, exothermic reaction in which two heavy baryons (Λc) undergo fusion to produce the doubly charmed baryon and a neutron, resulting in an energy release of 12 MeV. This reaction is a quark-level analogue of the deuterium–tritium nuclear fusion reaction (DT → 4He n). The much larger binding energy (approximately 280 MeV) between two bottom quarks (b) causes the analogous reaction with bottom quarks to have a much larger energy release of about 138 MeV. Researchers suggest some experimental setups in which the highly exothermic nature of the fusion of two heavy-quark baryons might manifest itself. At present, however, the very short lifetimes of the heavy bottom and charm quarks preclude any practical applications of such reactions.

The Large Hadron Collider should be capable of testing quark fusion.

21 thoughts on “Fusion of quark doubly heavy baryons would generate eight times more power than regular fusion”

  1. A single fission gives about 190 MeV. It does this without any magnetic or electrostatic or inertial confinement; all you need is material assembled in the correct manner….

    I guess that is passe when you could release 1/10 the energy with exotic unobtainium.

    I really have a problem with some of these theoretical physics models with quarks and neutrinos. Sure you get a lot of splatter when you collide nuclei in an atom smasher… Sure it’s good science and sure you can name each individual splatter component. You can call some of them muons and you can call some of them quarks. Whatever they are is not particularly well understood although neutron spallation is pretty well understood and observable and repeatable and even, dare I say, useful. These are not the words of a physics denier. They are the words of an engineer who believes you don’t really have anything until you can put it to use.

    • Muons aren’t too bad in that regard, either. But, yeah, some of these “particles” they’re talking about are so unstable they’ve fallen apart before you know they were together. Doubtless what Dr. Manhattan meant when he said, ” I’ve seen events so tiny and so fast they hardly can be said to have occurred at all.”

      • ” I’ve seen events so tiny and so fast they hardly can be said to have occurred at all.”

        I took that to be a sex joke.

  2. Shouldn’t this show up if a neutron star is too heavy to support its weight and shrinks below a certain limit?

  3. We can’t even get plain ole fusion working yet, despite spending gazillions of bucks and decades of time. Hey, let’s inform the ITER folks that they should dismantle their partially-built setup and rebuild it for quark fusion instead.

    • Whatever we spend on fusion research will be pennies to billions of dollar if we get it to work. Fusion is the power of the gods. Water in, almost infinite power out. We spend much more money looking for oil that will quickly run out.

      • Exactly the logic that will bankrupt us all. “But it will be so cool if we can get it to work.” Cut bait and use the funds to pursue any number of lower cost venture with real potential.

  4. I love it.

    Yew wands and powdered unicorn horn. Its nice to know that there’s a 130 MeV binding energy that can be released. The importance is WAY greater than to just make 8× more power than a D:T fusion reaction. It is to add data to what we are learning about subatomic processes. Kind of finding out how ‘gravity’ works on the ultra-über-fantastically-small quark scale.

    Its fun to read these articles. More Physics!


  5. Whereas hydrogen is already lying around for us to use, heavy quarks aren’t just widely available, but have to be created – at great energy cost – upon which they instantaneously decay after creation.

  6. I was wondering when I was going to do with this bag of old quarks in assorted colors. ‘Bet they’re worth their weight now, eh? If you hold on to things long enough…

  7. So, this is one of those, “X” would be a great fuel, if we had any X, and if X were actually stable to begin with, and if it didn’t cost even more energy to make X” articles?

    • Brett, you must be a troll for pointing out the flaws in the process.

      BTW other stories I read on the subject made it clear that it was a math simulation and had no foundation in reality. Very useful.

    • What if you’re not interested in net energy production? What if you instead want to make use of that 138MeV amount as a bandgap – say, for lasing purposes? Yeah, I know, it’s a ridiculously huge bandgap – but it’s still a bandgap, in theory. Suppose you want to generate a bunch of 138MeV packets of energy, uniformly, like in a lasing process. We can already use nucleons to make gamma-ray lasers, Can we do the same thing with quarks?

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