Since the 1950s, physicists have tried to harness the fusion reaction that powers the Sun, but until now no research group has been able to produce more energy from the reaction than it consumes. This milestone is known as net energy gain or target gain and would help provide a reliable and abundant alternative to conventional and fossil fuels and to energy produced by nuclear fission.
Now, US government scientists have made a breakthrough in the quest for unlimited, zero-carbon energy by achieving a net energy gain in a fusion reaction for the first time, according to a publication. Financial Times Y the US Department of Energy will announce tomorrow. “It is a milestone that opens the way to unlimited, cheap and clean energy production.”
The Lawrence Livermore Federal National Laboratory in California, which uses a process called inertial confinement fusion, has achieved this net energy gain in a fusion experiment it conducted two weeks ago.
Inertial confinement consists of achieving the necessary conditions for nuclear fusion to occur, providing the fuel particles with the necessary amount of movement so that when they collide the Coulomb barrier is overcome and thus the nuclear reaction can be produced. of fusion. This federal laboratory has achieved this by bombarding a tiny pellet of hydrogen plasma with the largest laser in the world.
Although many scientists believe that fusion power plants are still decades away from being achieved, the potential of this technology is enormous. Fusion reactions emit no carbon, do not produce long-lived radioactive waste, and a small portion of hydrogen fuel could theoretically power a home for hundreds of years.
This is one of the priorities of the Joe Biden administration, which has promoted a line that has been developing for decades since coming to power. The search for an energy that makes it possible to dispense with fossil fuels and does not generate CO2, but also does not cause radioactive waste like nuclear power and does not depend on the climate like renewables, has received multimillion-dollar investment impulses due to the enormous benefits it can bring to the economy. and to well-being.
The US Department of Energy has said that Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Safety Jill Hruby will announce a “scientific breakthrough” at the Lawrence National Laboratory in Livermore tomorrow, Tuesday, without releasing any further data.