US officials say nuclear fusion is a milestone for the future of clean energy


US Department of Energy officials declared Nuclear fusion makes history Tuesday: For the first time, US scientists produced more energy through fusion than the laser energy used to power the experiment.

The so-called “net energy gain” is a Major milestone In the decades-long effort to get clean, unlimited energy from nuclear fusion — the reaction that occurs when two or more atoms are fused together.

The test fired 2.05 megajoules of energy into the target and resulted in a fusion energy output of 3.15 megajoules – generating 50% more energy than was used. This is the first time we have been able to obtain meaningful power in an experiment.

Live Notifications: US officials have announced progress on nuclear fusion

“This monumental scientific breakthrough is a milestone for the future of clean energy,” U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, Democrat of California, said in a statement.

The breakthrough was made on December 5 by a team of scientists at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California – a stadium-sized facility equipped with 192 lasers.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm called the breakthrough “a milestone” on Tuesday.

“Ignition allows us, for the first time, to mimic certain conditions found only in stars and the Sun,” Granholm said. “This milestone moves a significant step toward the possibility of zero-carbon, abundant fusion energy powering our society.”

Granholm said scientists at Livermore and other national laboratories are doing work to help move quickly toward clean energy and maintain a nuclear deterrent without nuclear testing.

“This is how America leads, and we’re starting,” Granholm said. “If we can improve fusion energy, we can use it to produce clean electricity, transportation fuels, electricity, heavy industry and more.”

Aarti Prabhakar, the White House director of science and technology policy, spoke about spending three months working on the nuclear fusion program at Lawrence Livermore as a young scientist early in her career.

Prabhakar reflected on the generations of scientists who achieved today’s feat through nuclear fusion. “It wasn’t just one generation, it took generations of people to pursue this goal,” he said. “Fusion in our Sun and all other stars is a century since we discovered it. Over the course of that century, it took many different developments to finally come together to the point where we can replicate that fusion activity in a lab.

We still have a long way to go Nuclear fusion Electricity is electricity, experts warn. The US project only produced enough energy to boil 2.5 gallons of water, Tony Roulstone, a fusion expert at the University of Cambridge’s engineering department, told CNN.

That may not sound like much, but the experiment is still significant because the scientists proved they could generate more energy than they started with. Although there are still many steps before it becomes commercially viable, experts say this is a major hurdle for nuclear fusion to overcome.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Director Kim Puddle on Tuesday called his lab’s progress a “fundamental building block” for eventually realizing nuclear fusion electricity. He estimates it will take “a few decades” of more work before it’s ready for commercial use.

“I think it’s moving forward and probably with concerted effort and investment, a few decades of research into the underlying technologies will put us in a position to build a power plant,” Puddle told reporters. “With real investment and real focus, that time frame can get closer.”

Past fusion experiments, including one in the United Kingdom, have produced more energy but not nearly as large an energy gain. For example, earlier this year, Created by UK scientists 59 megajoules of energy – 20 times more than the US-based plan. Even so, the UK project only showed an energy gain of less than 1 megajoule.

US or UK-based projects “lack the hardware and the steps to convert fusion neutrons into electricity,” Ann White, chair of MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, told CNN.

Both European fusion projects powered by magnets and an American laser-based system could work together to push forward advances in fusion, Puddle said. Granholm, the central government also welcomes private investment in fusion.

Until nuclear fusion powers our lights and heats our water, more steps will be needed in the coming decades, Puddle insisted.

“I don’t want to give you the impression that we are going to plug (the National Ignition Facility) into the grid; That’s not how it works,” he said.

But Rolleston pointed out that large ambitious nuclear power projects had to start somewhere: in 1942, Scientists in Chicago The first fission reactor operated for just 5 minutes on its first run; 15 years later, the first nuclear power plant based in the United States Went online In Pennsylvania.

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