US scientists achieve ‘holy grail’ nuclear fusion reaction: report

US scientists have reportedly carried out the first nuclear fusion experiment to produce a net energy gain, a major advance in the field since the 1950s and a potential milestone in the quest for climate-friendly, renewable energy. source to replace fossil fuels.

The experiment took place in recent weeks at the government-funded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, where researchers used a process known as inertial confinement fusion. Financial Times It reports with reference to three people who know the preliminary results of the experiment.

The test involved bombarding a pellet of hydrogen plasma with the world’s largest laser to trigger a nuclear fusion reaction, the same process that occurs in the sun.

The researchers were able to produce 120 percent of the 2.1 megajoules used for the experiment, or 2.5 megajoules of energy.

The laboratory confirmed it FT recently conducted a “successful” experiment at the National Ignition Mechanism, but declined to comment further, citing the preliminary nature of the data.

“Preliminary diagnostic data indicate another successful test at the National Ignition Facility. However, the exact yield is still being determined and we cannot confirm that it has exceeded the limit at this time,” the statement said. “This review is in progress, so the information is being published. . . it would be wrong until this process is completed.”

The scientific community is wondering what the net gain fusion reaction is, noting that US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and US Nuclear Security Undersecretary Jill Hruby will release a statement from the national laboratory this Tuesday.

Many commentators have noted the reported fusion jump.

“Scientists have struggled to show that fusion can release more energy than is put in since the 1950s, and researchers at Lawrence Livermore appear to have finally and completely achieved this decades-long goal,” said Arthur Turrell, deputy director of the UK Office for National Statistics. he wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “This experimental result will ultimately fuel efforts to power the planet with nuclear fusion—at a time when we’ve never needed a carbon-free energy source more!”

Oliver Cameron, CEO of self-driving car company Cruise, has predicted that the world could be in a futuristic era of widespread nuclear fusion power and highly capable artificial general intelligence (AGI) with news from Livermore.

“It’s increasingly likely that we’ll end this decade with both AGI and living nuclear fusion,” he said. he wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

In April, the White House announced a number of initiatives to support the development of the fusion industry.

“Fusion is one of the bigger clean energy game changers [are] It is proportional to the scale required by the climate problem,” said Alondra Nelson, head of the Office of Science and Technology Policy of the White House. he said in a statement at the time. “Now is the time for bold innovation to accelerate fusion energy.”

The Biden administration also helped secure $370 billion in subsidies for low-carbon energy development as part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

Researchers and environmentalists continue to disagree about the green potential of nuclear fusion.

Proponents argue that fusion is safer than nuclear fission, the process that powers all existing nuclear power plants (and nuclear weapons). They say that if commercial reactors could regularly achieve net energy gains and were powered by renewable energy, fusion could finally be the energy source that frees the world from its dangerous dependence on fossil fuels.

“For my generation, it was the fear of weapons that influenced people’s view of nuclear. In this generation, it’s climate change,” Todd Allen, a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Michigan and director of the school’s Fastest Path to Zero climate center. he said Independent earlier this year. “At the end of the day, I don’t know if these are flaming technologies or not. It’s just interesting to me because they’re the first demos of new ideas in half a century. I think there is a lot of interest and potential.”

Others argue that nuclear fusion has long been over-promised and under-delivered, despite the huge capital costs and the world’s slow pace of development given the dwindling time available to avert the worst of the climate crisis.

“We have never been against any technology, but it is very clear that every time you start calculating, the moment you introduce nuclear, costs increase and the rate of change decreases,” said Jan Haverkamp, ​​Greenpeace energy expert. Independent in January. “This is what we cannot afford now as climate change becomes more and more real. “If you start talking about nuclear at this point, you’re either a fad or you’re trying to distract from what really needs to be done.”

Still, despite these debates, billions of dollars are flowing into private nuclear startups. TerraPower backed by Bill Gatesas well as government efforts PUSHA 23,000-ton, $22 billion nuclear experiment in France involving 35 countries.

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