As explained in fusion energy the technology of Star Scientific with muon catalyzed fusion allows for nuclear fusion to be achieved at low temperatures. These temperatures can be from several hundred degrees Kelvin to cold temperatures that produce solid hydrogen.
All nuclear fusion reactions attempt to bring atomic nuclei close enough together so that the electrostatic repulsive forces of like positively charged protons are overcome by the much stronger, but shorter range strong (nuclear binding) force.
Muons, one of the basic particles of matter, have a mass around 207 times that of an electron, but with the same negative electric charge. On exposure to atoms like hydrogen a muon can replace an electron.
With its much greater mass it orbits the atomic nucleus much closer than does the electron. In doing so, it allows closer approximation of hydrogen in forming a molecule. As the muon orbits its charge can mask that of the proton’s. This allows the strong force to operate. The nuclei can fuse.
A muon decays at around 2.2 x 10 microseconds into an electron, an electron antineutrino and a muon neutrino. During the time one exists it could ideally interact with around 10,000 nuclei.
In reality, though, the muon tends to become bound to a resulting helium nucleus every so often, experimentally reducing its effective interactions to around 200 in its lifetime. This has been the point that has caused other researchers to abandon muon catalyzed fusion.
Generally muons have been produced by particle accelerators. The energy required to generate a muon this way renders an output of 200 nuclear fusions insufficient to produce a useful net gain in output energy.
In the particle accelerator, muons are preceeded by pi mesons, or pions. These have an extremely short life of around 20 nanoseconds.
In nature pions then muons are produced by cosmic rays, in large part protons, interacting with atoms in our atmosphere.
Star Scientific have made the claim that they can produce oodles of pions and hence muons, rendering the stickiness and limited interactions that have been observed irrelevant.
Assuming the Star Scientific process for muon catalyzed fusion works as expected, the energy generated from high energy neutrons can be harvested. Just as with nuclear fission, fossil fuel and similar processes the heat can convert water to steam to drive turbines. The turbines drive generators producing electricity.
The Star Scientific muon catalyzed fusion fuel is proposed as deuterium, readily obtained from seawater. Although energy generated from the initial deuterium to deuterium interaction will be relatively low, some tritium will be bred. Deuterium to tritium fusion will create higher energy neutrons.