Breakthrough in nuclear fusion could mean ‘near-limitless energy’

(The Guardian, 12 Dec 2022) Researchers managed to release more energy than they put in: a positive gain known as ignition.

Researchers have reportedly made a breakthrough in the quest to unlock a “near-limitless, safe, clean” source of energy: they have got more energy out of a nuclear fusion reaction than they put in.

Nuclear fusion involves smashing together light elements such as hydrogen to form heavier elements, releasing a huge burst of energy in the process. The approach, which gives rise to the heat and light of the sun and other stars, has been hailed as having huge potential as a sustainable, low-carbon energy source.

However, since nuclear fusion research began in the 1950s, researchers have been unable to a demonstrate a positive energy gain, a condition known as ignition.

Now, it seems, the Rubicon has been crossed.

According to a report in the Financial Times, which has yet to be confirmed by the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California that is behind the work, researchers have managed to release 2.5 MJ of energy after using just 2.1 MJ to heat the fuel with lasers.

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The Guardian, 12 Dec 2022: Breakthrough in nuclear fusion could mean ‘near-limitless energy’