The breakthrough that could change the future - fusion brought in more energy than was needed to start the reaction

By: Maksim Panasovskyi | 12.12.2022, 22:11
The breakthrough that could change the future - fusion brought in more energy than was needed to start the reaction

On Tuesday, December 13, the U.S. is expected to announce a breakthrough in thermonuclear energy that could change the future.

Here's What We Know

Fusion could be a replacement for carbon fuels and nuclear power plants. Since the middle of the last century, scientists have been trying to use it to generate energy. However, all this time they have only been able, at best, to compensate for the energy that was spent to start the reaction. And now American scientists seem to have done what their predecessors failed to do for decades.

The discovery, to be officially announced tomorrow by the U.S. Department of Energy, could provide mankind with a virtually inexhaustible source of energy. In theory. According to the Financial Times, Scientists at the U.S. Livermore National Laboratory were able to get more energy from fusion than was used to start the reaction.

The authors of the experiment, which lasted for two weeks, used the world's largest laser to irradiate the hydrogen plasma. 2.1 MJ of energy was used to start the reaction. Fusion generated 2.5 MJ of energy, a net gain of 0.4 MJ.

The two specialists confirmed that the energy yield was indeed higher than they expected. However, the scientists agreed to comment solely on the condition of anonymity, because the data obtained during the experiment has not yet been fully verified.

The fusion reaction was launched at the National Ignition Facility (NIF), which belongs to the Livermore National Laboratory in the United States. A total of $3.5 billion was invested in the creation of this scientific facility. At first, it was mainly used to simulate military nuclear explosions. Over time, NIF began to conduct fusion experiments. During one of them, last year, scientists were able to generate 70% of the energy the lasers needed.

One U.S. official called this technology the "Holy Grail" that could lift more people out of poverty than opening a fire. At the same time, scientists note that the appearance of the first thermonuclear power plants should not be expected in the coming decades.

Source: Financial Times, The Washington Post