In the United States, scientists have achieved a breakthrough in the field of nuclear fusion. For the first time, an experiment produced more energy than was used. This was stated by the US Department of Energy.
look. American scientists announce a major achievement in the field of nuclear fusion: What is nuclear fusion and what is its benefit? Science expert Martijn Peters explains
“The experiment produced more energy from fusion than the laser energy used to stimulate fusion,” said Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), a federal research facility in Livermore, California within the Department of Energy. “This is a major scientific achievement that has been decades in the making.”
US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm praised the breakthrough, calling it a “game-changer that improves the world and saves lives.”
Less radioactive waste
In nuclear fusion, the nuclei of different atoms are fused together in a reactor, which is the opposite of nuclear fission. This technology has huge potential as an energy source, because there are large amounts of light nuclei on Earth, especially hydrogen, so the fuel has an almost endless supply. Another advantage is that no greenhouse gases are released, and there is much less radioactive waste than nuclear fission.
In theory, nuclear fusion could become a very environmentally friendly source of energy, but fusing atoms requires intense laser beams, which costs energy.
A unit at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory conducted a test last week. It was announced on Tuesday that it takes 2.05 megajoules of energy to produce 3.15 megajoules. There is still a net loss, because it takes 300 megajoules to heat up the laser so it can release 2.05 megajoules of energy.
This scoop could also help manage America’s nuclear weapons. They also use nuclear fusion. By fusing atoms in the laboratory, it is possible to test such bombs without having to actually detonate them. This is why the United States spends billions of dollars every year on nuclear fusion research.
There is still a long way to go before the solution becomes possible at the industrial and commercial level. According to Kim Bodell, director of LLNL, this could take several decades. According to her, there are mainly technological challenges.
The fact that several hundred megajoules of energy had to be injected first is the other side of the success story. Energy production is ultimately a small fraction of the input, according to Tony Rolston of the University of Cambridge. To generate electricity, at least twice the amount of energy invested must be produced.
According to Justin Wark of the University of Oxford, LLNL can only achieve this result once a day. “A fusion power plant would have to do this ten times a second.” The physicist is optimistic. “The basic science is well understood and this should encourage further investment.”
Big breakthrough: Should we move to power plants that power us through nuclear fusion? (+)
look. European scientists were also able to generate a record amount of energy through nuclear fusion in February
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