Science & Technology
US set to reveal breakthrough in nuclear fusion energy
By T.K. Randall
December 13, 2022 · 34 comments
Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
The US Department of Energy is about to announce a 'major breakthrough' in the hunt for limitless, clean energy.
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.
While physicists have been attempting to build a working nuclear fusion reactor for the purpose of energy generation for over 60 years, success has always remained tantalizingly out of reach.
This may soon be set to change, however, following the news that physicists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have, for the first time, succeeded in achieving a net energy gain in a nuclear fusion experiment involving lasers.
An official announcement is expected by the US Department of Energy very soon.
The news is particularly welcome at a time when many countries are experiencing energy shortages, though it may be some time before a viable nuclear fusion power station can be built.
Even with the ability to produce more power than it takes to run, a fusion reactor would likely need to generate 100 times more energy than it uses in order to be commercially viable.
Even so, it's a big step in the right direction.
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