A Fusion Energy Invention? Big Announcement Expected from US Scientists

According to a report by the Financial Times, scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory may have reached a remarkable new high point for fusion reactions by generating more energy than was pumped during a recent experiment.

The publication suggests that scientists “with knowledge of the preliminary results of a recent experiment” are discussing the result and the analysis is ongoing. A big announcement is scheduled for Tuesday, December 13 at LLNL. It is expected to be broadcast live by the Ministry of Energy around 07:00.

The National Ignition Facility runs an “inertial confinement fusion” experiment in which about 200 lasers are seen fired directly into a small hydrogen capsule. According to Nathan Garland, a physicist at Griffith University in Australia, lasers create a plasma around the capsule, which eventually initiates an explosion – these conditions that allow fusion reactions to occur.

Fusion is the reaction that powers our sun, and it works by splitting two heavy atoms together. Garland noted that this requires extreme pressure and extreme heat, but trying to recreate conditions in a lab is “very difficult”.

The energy released by fusing two atoms together is enormous, and more importantly, it emits no carbon. Unlike the fission – breaking apart atoms – used in nuclear power plants, fusion also leaves no radioactive waste and there is no risk of melting. In short, if we could harness the power of fusion, will revolutionize energyIt allows us to produce clean energy without pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

If the FT report and the social media chatter are correct, the scientists at LLNL may have achieved a “fusion energy gain,” denoted by the letter Q. In a fusion experiment, if Q > 1, then it’s a real energy breakthrough that scientists have long dreamed of achieving. “If true, it’s definitely a big deal,” Garland said.

However, as with all sciences, it is good to be careful and not exaggerate the results to be fully analyzed just yet. After all, we’ve been here before. In 2013, reports were swirling that NIF had achieved exactly this feat. That was not the case.

But more recently, NIF has made great strides towards achieving the goal. In August 2021, For a short time, researchers reported recreating the power of the sun in a self-sustaining reaction.. That’s a good pedigree, and one that gives us a little more confidence in the rumors, here at CNET Science.

A spokesperson for LLNL told CNET “our analysis is still ongoing, so we can’t provide details or confirmation at this time,” and provided a link to media advisory – which means “A BIG SCIENTIFIC BREAK” in capital letters. “

The result does not mean that we suddenly have an endless supply of energy. The reaction occurring in NIF is likely to take a fraction of a second or less. But this is the first step in a journey towards fusion energy as a viable, serious technology to power our world. It provides a proof of concept that fusion experiments like this can reach Q > 1.

So, while we’re always wary of throwing the word “groundbreaking” around when reporting on the latest science – particularly in the field of fusion energy – we think he might be right here. We’ll have to wait and see.

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