On Tuesday Morning, the Department of Energy announced that America has successfully generated energy through nuclear fusion. The feat was achieved by the Livermore National Laboratory. For the first time in human history, a nuclear fusion process produced more energy than was put in the process.
“This is one of the most impressive scientific feats of the 21st century,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “Today, we tell the world that America has achieved a major scientific breakthrough, one that happened because we invested in our research and our national labs.”
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The researchers at the lab used a process known as inertia confinement fusion to achieve the feat in an experiment last week. Pellets of hydrogen plasma were bombarded by the world’s largest laser in a lab. The process saw fusion resulting in more energy than they put into the laser.
Nuclear fusion is a process through which two light atomic nuclei are combined to form a single heavy one. In the process, a huge amount of energy is produced. This is the same technology used in nuclear weapons. For decades, scientists have been trying to harness the same energy for civilian use.
According to Granholm, the impact of this achievement could be a big win in the race against climate change. The officials said that nuclear energy could produce sufficient energy to end the use of fossil fuels.
“We have taken the first tentative steps towards a clean energy source that could revolutionize the world,” said Jill Hruby of the National Nuclear Security Administration.
The experiment generated 3.15 megajoules of energy following an input of 2.05 megajoules in the reactor. It has never been done before in any fusion laboratory, according to Mark Herrmann, the Livermore laboratory’s program director. Herrmann, however, noted that the energy produced in the process is not yet commercially viable. He said that the experiment only produced 1% of the electricity used in the process.
“I want to be clear — ultimately this experiment drew about 300 megajoules from the grid,” Herrmann said. “The laser wasn’t designed to be efficient. This laser was designed to give us as much juice as possible to make these incredible conditions happen in the laboratory.”
Moving forward, the researchers will be working on finetuning the process to see if they can produce commercially viable energy.
Via Yahoo! News
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