Unlimited, clean, cheap, carbon-free power- that is the promise of fusion energy. Scientists have been chasing the potential of fusion energy since the 1950s. The goal is to recreate the thermonuclear reaction that fuels the sun and the stars. The fusion process smashes two hydrogen atoms together to create an atom of helium and energy to produce electricity on earth.
It’s only been a century since humans realized that fusion powered the sun. The challenges of recreating the process on earth are daunting. Researchers must deal with the technical realities of harnessing 100-million-degree (sometimes 200-million-degree) temperatures to produce a mini-sun on earth. The trick is to safely create a fusion reaction with a net energy gain. This would prove the principle of fusion.
Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have developed a scientific milestone and engineering marvel to direct 192 high-intensity lasers at a pellet of fuel the size of a peppercorn to create ignition in a controlled fusion experiment that produced a net energy gain. Up until now, no one has ever achieved that feat.
The target energy gain of the experiment was 1, representing an equal amount of energy yield as that put in for ignition. The experiment saw 2 megajoules (MJ) in and yielded 3 megajoules out, a gain of 1.5. This net energy gain is a milestone in the field of fusion energy and the Holy Grail of Fusion Energy.
It will take time- perhaps decades- to develop the foundational engineering and technology needed to scale this breakthrough into usable power on a commercial scale, but work is progressing. In addition to worldwide government research in the field, private investors have poured billions of dollars into fusion research. This net-energy feat should only accelerate funding. One of the biggest funding obstacles was proving fusion works in principle, which the Lawrence Livermore researchers just accomplished for the first time ever.
The importance of fusion energy is undeniable. At a power density 10 million times greater than fossil fuels, only half a bathtub of seawater will produce as much energy as 40 train cars of coal. It takes 10 million pounds of coal to yield as much energy as one pound of fusion fuel.
Fusion energy aims to harness the power of the sun. This breakthrough is a step in the right direction!
I’ve got good information below to learn more about this topic. What do you think about the potential of fusion power? Click here to send me an email.
Click here to see the Ignition video from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Click here for the story- National Ignition Facility achieves fusion ignition
~ Brian Kasal- The Leadership Matrix
P.S.- Did you see my last Leadership Matrix post? The Breakneck Pace of Fed Rate Hikes