SCIENTISTS have reached a milestone in the development of nuclear fusion – and it could one day help reduce energy bills.
The Department of Energy announced Tuesday that scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have made a breakthrough in nuclear fusion.
What is fusion?
Nuclear fusion is when two or more atomic nuclei combine to form one or more different atomic nuclei and subatomic particles (neutrons or protons).
This typically requires superheated temperatures of around 180 million degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
Because the total mass of the resulting single nucleus is less than the mass of the original two nuclei, mass is left over, which turns into a tremendous amount of energy.
This is the same process that powers our Sun and other stars, but until recently man-made nuclear fusion was just a theorized concept.
And now, for the first time ever, researchers have achieved a net energy gain in a laser fusion experiment, per Reuters.
What does this mean for humanity?
Experts believe fusion power has the potential to pave the way for limitless, clean, and cheap energy marketplace.
However, there is still a long way to go before the process can be commercialized.
“When you think of a fusion power plant, you’re talking about a very complicated, very expensive piece of equipment,” Chris Fall of nonprofit MITER Corporation told Marketplace.
“It’s like buying a Rolls Royce at this point as opposed to a Toyota. What we need is that kind of advancement in technology that gets us to lower costs.”
That’s because fusion requires immense amounts of energy—and recovering more energy than you put in, even for a brief moment, is a major challenge.
Dennis Whyte from the Plasma Science and Fusion Center at MIT NPR: “You need to hit pretty high buff levels to make this a viable power source to be a practical power plant.
“But scientifically crossing the threshold of seeing net energy is a great achievement, because for the first time you see the physical conditions required for a power plant when we extrapolate into the future.”
Whyte added that at this stage of development, researchers are not even trying to turn fusion into electricity.
Scientists have been trying to harness fusion energy on Earth for more than 60 years National Geographic.
https://www.thesun.ie/tech/news-tech/9906228/nuclear-fusion-breakthrough-limitless-energy-bills/ Nuclear fusion breakthrough for “limitless energy” could lower your bills