A significant advance in research on the production of clean and unlimited energy comes from the United States where more energy has been produced than is used in the process of nuclear fusion. The results of the experiment will be revealed by scientists at the Federal Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, at the National Ignition Facility in California, from where the US government will announce (streaming) a “great scientific breakthrough” today at 4 pm (Italian time). We will follow the event live.
As evidenced by the Financial Times some sources in possession of the preliminary analysis data of the experiment, in the structure of the US government the nuclear fusion carried out thanks to the largest laser in the world has produced around 2.5 megajoules of energy, about 120% of the 2.1 megajoules of energy used.
If the data were confirmed, it would be an epochal discovery. For the first time, more energy would have been produced than was used, realizing the so-called “net gain”, pursued by science since the first experiments about 70 years ago. If implemented, nuclear fusion could help produce zero-emission energy with waste that does not require a long period of time for disposal.
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But it should be clarified that only when the overall energy balance is positive can this type of fusion be transformed from a laboratory experiment into a device for the production of electricity. To understand its potential, just think that a coffee cup of hydrogen could power a house for hundreds of years.
Heard from Financial Timesthe body Arthur Turrell he said: ‘If this discovery is confirmed, we are witnessing a historic moment.’ The results obtained in the US will set the pace for research, confirms a Republic Peter Barabaschi, director general of ITER, the European reactor under construction in Cadarache in the south of France. Different methods are used in US laboratories for nuclear fusion compared to the European project which sees Italian research engaged in the forefront. “But we will hardly see the concrete results of our work. – continues Barabaschi, underlining the urgency of curbing the climate crisis – For this we also need rapid alternatives to fossil fuels”. Cautious too Leonidas Antonio Gizzihead of the Pisa office of the National Institute of Optics, in the interview given to The print: “It will take at least 15 years to obtain the first practical results, but from today the path is marked”.
The US National Ignition Facility has achieved a great result, as did the pioneer of experimental fusion reactors in Europe, JET, last February, but both still have a long way to go before clean energy that mimics the Sun can be produced on a large scale. Even the nuclear fusion expert is convinced of this Stephen Atzeniprofessor of Physics at the La Sapienza University of Rome and responsible for the laser for the Abc fusion of Enea consulted by Ansa.
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“Today we say that it will take another twenty years at least, the road is still long”, – said al Corriere della Sera Guido Tonellithe physicist who participated in and was the spokesperson for the CMS experiment at the Cern of Geneva, the same one that led to the discovery of the Higgs boson, the famous “God particle”. “Too many times there has been excessive enthusiasm and for this reason I would not use triumphal tones because fusion technology is very complicated – explains Tonelli – We have been working on it since the 1950s and we need to imagine this adventure as a stage race in which up to that the end will not be reached, there may be accelerations but also hitches that we were initially unable to foresee. This is how scientific research works”.
There is no shortage of obstacles in the future, starting with the gigantic costs and technical difficulties to recreate the reaction on a large scale and to develop machinery (until now non-existent) capable of transforming it at sustainable costs into electricity to be put on the grid. But a new future doesn’t seem far off. “This breakthrough demonstrates that the need to continue investing in nuclear fusion is strong,” said the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. ‘We need various approaches to ensure this clean energy in the future, but this shows that intensified work and research are worth it,’ she added.