Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm announces a major scientific breakthrough in fusion research that was made at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, during a news conference at the Department of Energy in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022. Photo by Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite.
US Department of Energy officials announced on Tuesday a significant advancement in nuclear fusion in which a team of scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility in California have for the first time produced more energy in a fusion reaction than was used to ignite it on Dec. 5.
The achievement of a net energy gain comes after the decades-long effort to source clean, limitless energy from nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion is the reaction of two or more atoms being fused together causing massive amounts of energy and heat to be released. The waste of which is less radioactive and decays far quicker than nuclear fission, a current global producer of electricity.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and other officials at the LLNL held a news conference Tuesday calling the breakthrough a major ‘milestone.’
“Ignition allows us to replicate, for the first time, certain conditions that are only found in the stars and sun,” Granholm said. “This milestone moves us one significant step closer to the possibility of zero-carbon, abundant fusion energy powering our society.”
President Joe Biden called the LLNL’s work a good example of the need to continue to invest in research and development. “Look what’s going on from the Department of Energy on the nuclear front. There’s a lot of good news on the horizon,” he said during a press briefing at the White House.
“This is what it looks like for America to lead, and we’re just getting started,” Granholm said. “If we can advance fusion energy, we could use it to produce clean electricity, transportation fuels, power, heavy industry and so much more.”
Fusion ignition is “one of the most impressive scientific feats of the 21st century,″ Granholm said, adding that the breakthrough “will go down in the history books.″
The LLNL will continue their work to harness nuclear fusion and eventually incorporate for commercial use. Granholm referenced the Biden Administration’s goal to get to a commercial fusion reactor within 10 years, but added that it may take ‘a few decades.’
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