American scientists reportedly carried out the first nuclear fusion experiment to achieve a net gain of energy. It represents a breakthrough in a field that has been pursuing that result since the 1950s, and a possible milestone in the search for an environmentally friendly, renewable energy source to replace conventional fossil fuels.
The experiment took place in recent weeks at the government-funded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, where the researchers used a process known as inertial confinement fusion, reports the Financial Timesciting three people with knowledge of the preliminary results of the experiment.
The test consisted of bombarding a pellet of hydrogen plasma with the world’s largest laser to trigger a nuclear fusion reaction, the same process that occurs in the sun.
The researchers managed to produce 2.5 megajoules of energy, 120% of the 2.1 megajoules used to power the experiment.
The laboratory confirmed the Financial Times that he had recently conducted a “successful” experiment at the National Ignition Facility, but declined to comment further, citing the preliminary nature of the data.
“Initial diagnostic data suggests another successful experiment at the National Ignition Facility. However, the exact production is still being determined and we cannot confirm that it is above the threshold yet,” he said. “That analysis is in process, so publishing the information… before the process is complete would be inaccurate.”
The scientific community is excited that a net gain fusion reaction has occurred, noting that US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and US Under Secretary for Nuclear Safety Jill Hruby will make an announcement from the National Laboratory. on Tuesday.
Many commenters welcomed the reported merger breakthrough.
“Scientists have struggled to show that fusion can release more energy than is generated since the 1950s, and the Lawrence Livermore researchers appear to have completely exceeded this decades-old goal,” Arthur Turrell, deputy director of the UK Office for National Statistics, wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “This experimental result will spur efforts to finally power the planet with nuclear fusion, at a time when we could no longer need an abundant source of carbon-free energy!”
Oliver Cameron, an executive at the self-driving car company Cruise, predicted that with the news from Livermore, the world could prepare for a futuristic era of widespread nuclear fusion power and wide-ranging IAF (strong artificial intelligence).
“It is increasingly likely that we will end this decade with IAF and viable nuclear fusion,” he wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
In April, the White House announced a set of initiatives to support the development of the fusion industry.
“Fusion is one of a much larger set of revolutionary clean energy methods that are commensurate with the scale that the climate challenge requires,” Alondra Nelson, chief of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said at the time in a statement. “Now is the time for bold innovation to accelerate fusion power.”
The administration of Biden it also helped secure $370 billion in subsidies for low-carbon energy development as part of the Cut Inflation Act of 2022.
Opinion among researchers and environmentalists remains divided on the ecological potential of nuclear fusion.
Proponents argue that fusion is much safer than nuclear fission, the process that powers all existing nuclear power plants. They argue that if commercial reactors were able to achieve a net energy gain on a regular basis, and were powered by renewable energy, fusion could be the power source that would finally free the world from its dependence on fossil fuels.
“For my generation, it was the fear of guns that influenced people’s views on nuclear power. In this generation, it’s climate change,” Todd Allen, a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Michigan and director of the college’s Fastest Path to Zero climate center, said to The Independent at the beginning of this year. “In the end I don’t know if these are the technologies that catch fire or not. I just find it interesting because they are the first demonstrations of new ideas in half a century. I think there is a lot of interest and potential.”
Others, however, argue that nuclear fusion has a long history of over-promising and under-delivering, despite huge capital expenditures, and is a slow pace of development that the world cannot afford given the limited time available to avoid it. the worst of the climate crisis.
“In principle, we have never been against any technology, but it is very clear, every time you start to calculate, that the moment you introduce nuclear energy, the costs increase and the speed of change decreases”, Jan Haverkamp , a Greenpeace energy expert, told The Independent in january. “That is exactly what we cannot afford now that climate change is becoming more and more real. If you start talking about nuclear power now, it’s interpreted as following a fad or trying to divert attention from what really needs to be done.”
Yet, despite this debate, billions of dollars are flowing into private nuclear startups, such as TerraPower backed by Bill Gatesas well as government efforts such as ITER(International Institute for Technology Education and Research)a 23,000-ton, $22-billion nuclear experiment in 35 countries being built in France.
US Scientists Achieve ‘Holy Grail’ of Nuclear Fusion Reaction: Report