The US Department of Energy has announced an accomplishment in nuclear fusion that will go down in history – marking a decades-long quest to harness the same energy that powers the sun and stars.
Scientists achieved the holy grail of ‘net energy gain’ by producing more energy in fusion than was used to activate it.
They made the breakthrough on December 5, at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) in California, which houses a sports stadium-sized lab equipped with 192 lasers.
The experiment saw the high-energy lasers converge on a target about the size of a peppercorn, heating a capsule of hydrogen to more than 180 million degrees Fahrenheit and ‘briefly simulating the conditions of the sun,’ said the facility’s director, Dr Kim Budil.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm called the breakthrough a ‘landmark achievement.’
Granholm said scientists at Livermore and other national labs are working on research to help the US ‘solve humanity’s most complex and pressing problems, like providing clean power to combat climate change and maintaining a nuclear deterrent without nuclear testing.’
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