The race of countries continues on fusion energy, which aims for unlimited and completely clean power. This time around, the US reported for the first time a net energy gain in a fusion reaction.
According to the preliminary results of a recent experiment, US government-funded scientists have achieved a significant breakthrough in the pursuit of unlimited, zero-carbon power by achieving a net energy gain in a fusion reaction for the first time.
Physicists have tried to rein in the fusion reaction that powers the sun since the 1950s, but no group has been able to generate more energy from the reaction than it consumes. All the studies that scientists have done so far have tried to prove the net energy gain from the reaction and the possibility of the process. The new work carried out by the USA is a milestone in this sense and may unlock a reliable, unlimited energy against fossil fuels and conventional nuclear energy.
Could Be A Touchstone
The experiment was conducted last week at the government-funded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, according to the Financial Times citing three people with knowledge of the preliminary results of the experiment. Here it is stated that a process known as inertial confinement fusion is used.
Inertial confinement fusion is a fusion energy research program that initiates nuclear fusion reactions by compressing and heating targets filled with thermonuclear fuel. This is different from what has been explored in fusion reactors like the Tokamak and Stellarators we’ve reported on before.
More Energy Produced Than Consumed
While many scientists believe fusion power plants are decades away, the potential of the technology is hard to ignore. Fusion reactions do not emit carbon, produce long-lived radioactive waste, and a small glass of hydrogen fuel could theoretically power a home for hundreds of years.
In the test carried out at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, fusion was achieved by bombarding a small hydrogen plasma with the world’s largest laser. 2.5 megajoules of energy was produced, which is about 120 percent of the 2.1 megajoules needed to make the fusion. Scientists state that the data is still being analyzed. According to FT’s report, two people with knowledge have stated that the energy output is higher than expected, which damages some diagnostic equipment and complicates the analysis. A clear statement is expected in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the $3.5 billion National Ignition Facility conducted a similar experiment last year and produced 1.37 megajoules. That number was around 70 percent of the energy in lasers. On the other hand, plasma physicist Dr. “If this is confirmed, we are witnessing a moment in history,” said Arthur Turrell. It seems to have finally and absolutely destroyed it.”