Science & Technology
Nuclear fusion laser experiment breaks record
By T.K. Randall
August 22, 2021 · 0 comments
Inside the National Ignition Facility (NIF). Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Lawrence Livermore National Security
Scientists have succeeded in producing a record-breaking burst of energy using lasers and nuclear fusion.
In a recent experiment, a team of researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Northern California succeeded in releasing 1.3 megajoules of energy in 100 trillionths of a second by focusing 192 lasers at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) onto a pea-sized pellet of hydrogen.
The energy yield, which is equivalent to 70% of the energy absorbed by the pellet, was far higher than the team had expected to achieve and breaks their previous record of 170 kilojoules.
Their success represents another small step forward in the hunt for sustainable fusion power.
"This result is a historic step forward for inertial confinement fusion research, opening a fundamentally new regime for exploration and the advancement of our critical national security missions," said Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory director Kim Budil.
Often seen as the Holy Grail of power generation, nuclear fusion is the same process that produces energy in the Sun and works by fusing hydrogen nuclei together to create helium.
Unlike nuclear fission which comes with the inherent risk of a meltdown, fusion is much cleaner and safer while the hydrogen fuel used by the process is so abundant that it is practically limitless.
Physicists have been attempting to build a working nuclear fusion reactor for the purpose of energy generation for over 60 years, however success has always remained tantalizing out of reach.
Source: Live Science
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