Researchers at the National Ignition Facility in Livermore, Calif., home to the world’s most powerful laser, announced Tuesday that they have crossed a tipping point in their quest for fusion power.

This is 1) a major scientific breakthrough and 2) we still have a long way to go to harness the reaction that powers the Sun, nuclear fusion, as a viable source of abundant clean energy. On December 5, the team fired 192 laser beams at small fuel pellets, producing slightly more energy than the lasers put in. Nuclear Security Administration, at a news conference on Tuesday.

To make fusion capable of actually producing electricity for the grid, we can’t just cross the ignition finish line. that should blow it away. While this announcement is an important incremental step forward, the breakthrough is far from usable. NIF itself is a research institute, so its technology is not intended for power generation. Therefore, designing a fusion reactor that utilizes this new approach presents itself as an engineering challenge.

NIF is part of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory operated by the US Department of Energy. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Tuesday, “This is where America leads, and we’re just getting started.

The Financial Times first revealed on Sunday that a breakthrough fusion announcement is imminent.

Nuclear fusion is the reaction of small atomic nuclei such as hydrogen and helium colliding and sticking together to generate enormous amounts of heat, which could theoretically be used to make electricity. This is in contrast to the fission reaction used in conventional nuclear power plants. In nuclear fission reactions, large atoms like uranium are split up. The problem with nuclear fusion is that the nuclei are positively charged and therefore repel each other. In order for them to overcome their opposition, they must move very fast in the confined space, creating a high-energy state of matter known as plasma.

Scientists have struggled for decades to do this. He has two main approaches. One is NIF’s strategy of compressing small pellets of fuel with a powerful laser. Another method is to heat the plasma to a temperature higher than that of the Sun and confine it with a magnet. This is how ITER, the world’s largest fusion project, currently under construction in the south of France, generates reactions.

The Sun and other stars are able to pull this off because they have enough matter to generate enormous gravitational forces. This is because it creates a nuclear fusion reaction that accelerates and confines atoms to produce light and heat that can be experienced from millions of miles away.

Source link

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *