US Makes Major Announcement in Nuclear Fusion Research
The US Department of Energy will announce a “major scientific breakthrough” in nuclear fusion this week. This weekend’s announcement follows previous media reports of a major scientific milestone in nuclear fusion research.
Scientists have probably succeeded in generating nuclear energy in which more energy is released than is consumed.
Nuclear fusion is the fusing together of light atomic nuclei. This releases energy called nuclear fusion energy. Nuclear fusion is seen as a sustainable energy source. The raw materials required for nuclear fusion – water and lithium – are widely available and in stock. In addition, no carbon dioxide is released when atomic nuclei fuse.
For the time being, net energy generation is the biggest technical obstacle. The process of fusion requires extremely high temperatures. This process requires almost as much energy as it generates.
Britain’s Financial Times newspaper reported this weekend that scientists at California-based Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) had achieved a “net energy gain” from an experimental fusion reactor. That would be the first time researchers have successfully produced more energy in a fusion reaction than was expended in the process. This would represent a potentially important step in the pursuit of carbon-free energy.
The fusion reaction that produced a net energy gain of 120 percent took place over the past two weeks, according to FT. The newspaper relied on three people with knowledge of the preliminary results. The Washington Post also spoke to insiders about the investigation.
The LLNL fusion facility consists of nearly two hundred lasers the size of three football fields. They bombard a small spot with high energy levels to initiate a fusion reaction.
Spokespeople for the Energy Department and LLNL previously declined to comment or confirm the FT message. However, they said US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm would announce on Tuesday.