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U.S. Researchers Announces ‘Limitless Clean-Energy’ Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough



Researchers Announces 'Limitless Clean-Energy' Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough

(CTN NEWS) – A significant development in the long-running effort to harness the sun’s energy-generating mechanism was disclosed by scientists on Tuesday.

This marks the first time that more energy was generated during a fusion event than was required to ignite it.

The outcome was discovered last week by scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, according to the Energy Department.

The objective, known as a net energy gain, has proven to be elusive because it is extremely challenging to manage fusion, which occurs at extremely high temperatures and pressures.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and other officials stated that the development would open the door for improvements in the future of clean energy and the development of the national defense.

At a news conference in Washington, Granholm said, “Ignition allows us to duplicate for the first time certain conditions that are found exclusively in the stars and the sun.”

“This accomplishment brings us “much closer” to “powering our society” with zero-carbon fusion energy.”

U.S. Researchers Announces 'Limitless Clean-Energy' Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm announces a major scientific breakthrough in fusion research made at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California during a news conference at the Department of Energy in Washington Tuesday, December 13, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

According to Granholm, the discovery of fusion ignition is “one of the most amazing scientific triumphs of the 21st century,” and it “will go down in the history books.”

Arati Prabhakar, a science adviser for the White House, appeared with Granholm and dubbed the fusion ignition produced on December 5 “an engineering miracle beyond comprehension”.

And “a tremendous illustration of what patients actually can achieve.”

Fusion supporters believe it will one day replace conventional energy sources like fossil fuels. Fusion is still decades away from providing homes and businesses with carbon-free electricity.

However, experts claimed that the disclosure represented a considerable advance.

U.S. Researchers Announces 'Limitless Clean-Energy' Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough

This undated image provided by the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory shows the NIF Target Bay in Livermore, Calif., via AP.

Professor Dennis Whyte, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center and a pioneer in fusion research, described the event as “almost like it’s a starting pistol going off.”

“To combat climate warming and ensure energy supplies, we should advance the creation of nuclear fusion systems.”

Despite “extremely big challenges,” according to Kim Budil, director of the Livermore Lab, fusion technology is more likely to be extensively employed in “a few decades” than the 50 or 60 years that had been previously predicted.

By exerting sufficient pressure on neighboring hydrogen atoms that they smash together to form helium, fusion generates vast quantities of heat and energy.

It doesn’t produce radioactive waste, in contrast to other nuclear reactions.

U.S. Researchers Announces 'Limitless Clean-Energy' Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough

Kim Budil, director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, discusses a major scientific breakthrough in fusion research made at the lab in California during a news conference at the Department of Energy in Washington Tuesday, December 13, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

President Joe Biden cited the development as evidence of the necessity to keep funding research and development. “Observe what the Energy Department is doing on the nuclear side.”

He stated many positive developments in the works at the White House.

Fusion research has cost billions of dollars and taken decades to complete, yet the results have only been thrilling for brief periods.

Before the accomplishment, scientists at Lawrence Livermore’s National Ignition Facility employed 192 lasers and temperatures many times hotter than the sun’s center to produce an incredibly brief fusion reaction.

Interior of the target chamber, where fusion takes place

The interior of the target chamber at LLNL is where nuclear fusion occurs. – Image Credit: BBC

Marvin Adams, deputy administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, a division of the Energy Department, noted that the lasers concentrated a tremendous amount of heat on a tiny spherical capsule.

The outcome was a superheated plasma environment where a reaction produced around 1.5 times as much energy as the light it was caused by.

Before the net energy gain results in sustainable electricity, says University of Rochester professor and laser fusion researcher Riccardo Betti, a lengthy road must be traveled.

He compared the discovery to the first time anyone realized that turning oil into gasoline and lighting it may cause an explosion.

Both the engine and the tires are still missing, according to Betti. “You cannot pretend to own a vehicle.”

The amount of power used to power the lasers and run the project was not included in the net energy gain milestone because it only pertained to the fusion reaction itself.

Fusion will need to generate substantially more power and for longer durations to be practical.

The Liv+ermore lab, known as LLNL, is sometimes jokingly called “Lasers, Lasers, Nothing but Lasers.” But Budil said the lab’s motto “sums up our approach nicely: Science and technology on a mission.”

It is quite challenging to manipulate the physics of stars. According to Whyte, the fuel must be hotter than the sun’s core. The fuel wants to leak out and become cold; it does not want to remain hot. It is difficult to contain it, he said.

According to Jeremy Chittenden, a professor of plasma physics at Imperial College in London, results from the California lab exceeded expectations.

Even though much work must be done before fusion can be used as a power source, Chittenden expressed hope that it will eventually become “the ideal power source that we thought it would be”.

A source of energy that emits no carbon and runs on a plentiful form of hydrogen that can be extracted from seawater.

One fusion method involves converting hydrogen into plasma, an electrically charged gas managed by massive magnets.

U.S. Researchers Announces 'Limitless Clean-Energy' Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough

A major scientific breakthrough in fusion research is announced at the Department of Energy with, from left, Kim Budil, director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, National Nuclear Security Administration director Jill Hruby, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, National Nuclear Security Administration Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Marvin Adams, and Arati Prabhakar, the president’s science adviser, in Washington, Tuesday, December 13, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, a 35-nation collaboration, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a commercial enterprise are all investigating this technique in France.

The teams working on those projects on two continents announced notable developments in the essential magnets required for their work last year.

Professor of experimental plasma physics at the University of Michigan, Carolyn Kuranz, hoped the finding would spur “greater interest and activity” in fusion research.

Including from business, which she and others argued would be necessary to deliver fusion energy to the grid.

“We’ll need to use a variety of energy production alternatives if we’re going to stop additional climate change,” according to Kuranz.

“And nuclear energy, including fission and fusion, truly needs to be included in this process. Renewable energy sources won’t get us there by themselves.”


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