US Scientists at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California successfully created a nuclear fusion reaction resulting in a net energy gain for the first time ever, according to a report in CNN.
The United States Department of Energy is likely to make the official announcement on Tuesday. The result of the experiment would be a massive step in a decades-long pursuit to find an infinite source of zero-carbon energy that help reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
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Scientists have since the 1950s attempted to recreate nuclear fusion and replicate the fusion that powers the sun, but no group had been able to produce more energy from the reaction than it consumes. The milestone would help prove that the process could provide a reliable, abundant alternative to fossil fuels and conventional nuclear energy.
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Nuclear fusion happens when two or more atoms are fused into one larger one, a process that produces a huge amount of energy as heat. Unlike Nuclear fission which powers electricity all around the world, it doesn’t produce long-lived radioactive waste.
Researchers and physicists across the globe have been moving toward the milestone, using various methods to try to achieve the same goal.
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However, many scientists believe fusion power stations are still decades away but the technology’s potential cannot be ignored. Fusion reactions emit zero carbon and generate zero long-lived radioactive waste and a small cup of hydrogen fuel could theoretically power a house for hundreds of years.
The US breakthrough comes as the world struggles with high energy prices and the need to rapidly move away from burning fossil fuels to stop average global temperatures from reaching dangerous levels.
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The fusion reaction at the US government facility generated around 2.5 megajoules of energy, which was nearly 120% of the 2.1 megajoules of energy in the lasers, according to a Financial Times report.
Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and under-secretary for nuclear security Jull Hruby will announce “a major scientific breakthrough” at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on Tuesday, said the US department of energy.
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According to the report, the laboratory confirmed that a successful experiment has recently been conducted at its National Ignition Facility but the analysis of the results is ongoing.
The Biden administration is investing almost $370 billion in new subsidies for low-carbon energy as part of the Inflation Reduction Act to slash emissions and win the global race for next-generation clean technology.