American researchers at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California have made significant progress in nuclear physics, the laboratory itself reported on Tuesday.
For the first time, scientists have succeeded in producing more energy than it costs to carry out nuclear fusion.
– What we have achieved is a great scientific achievement that we have been working for for many decades, says the laboratory itself on Twitter.
This is how the historic energy breakthrough is explained:
American researchers managed to generate 50 percent more energy than they used.
US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm believes the research will be able to help humanity “solve some of the most complex problems” the world faces.
– This could help us fight the climate crisis and develop deterrent nuclear weapons without conducting test nuclear explosions. This is what it’s like when you lead the United States, Granholm says.
– This can be built upon and improved upon, and it could be an energy source in the future, says program manager Mark Hermann at the lab at a press conference.
And the potential is huge: one of Lawrence Livermore’s researchers explains that the amount of energy released during fusion is so great that hydrogen in a cup of water can power a single home for an entire year. to CNN.
Regenerates the sun’s energy
In nuclear physics, fusion involves the joining of two light atomic nuclei into one heavier nucleus. This can release massive amounts of energy at one time.
But the process also costs a lot of energy to implement. One uses a giant laser—which fires 192 laser beams at the same time—to fuse the nuclei of an atom together.
Therefore, it is probably a revolutionary breakthrough that now, for the first time, less energy is spent on fusion than the process creates.
It is precisely fusion that makes stars shine, radiating so much energy. In other words, fusion is exactly what drives the sun we live with in the solar system – and which ensures that life can survive on Earth at all.
Within stars such as the Sun, hydrogen atoms are constantly fused together to form helium. This is what generates the sunshine and the heat that the sun radiates.
By recreating this, energy is created without pollution, greenhouse gases, or radioactive waste, as nuclear power plants that use uranium do.
– This is a great moment. It’s an example of what perseverance can truly achieve, says White House Science and Technology Chief Dr. Arita Prabhakar.
– What has been tried for a long time is to recreate what happens on the sun. Now researchers have managed that in a mini version, nuclear physicist Sneva Rose tells TV2.
So how does this process happen?
Rose simply explains:
– What’s been done here is you’ve taken the hydrogen in a capsule the size of your thumb nail. Then they took 192 laser beams and directed them at the capsule. It then gains so much energy in and around the capsule that it becomes so hot that the fusion process begins: the atomic nuclei in hydrogen fuse together. When atomic nuclei melt, more heat is released. And in the process, the researchers say they received more heat than they used, Rose says.
The nuclear power plants we use today are the opposite of this process: fission. Current power plants lead to nuclear waste, but the fusion process does not.
When building fusion power plants becomes relevant is highly uncertain. Rose thinks it’s about decades.
– If this hack is true, then fusion power plants may be coming. Until today, I thought fusion power plants were just a fantasy, but now I pretty much believe this could very well be a reality. Rose says it’s very exciting.
The challenge now is to set up this process at scale so that power can be transmitted to the power grid.
CNN writes that it could take years, possibly decades, before nuclear fusion can produce unlimited amounts of clean energy.
– History presented
Since the 1940s, research has been done on fusion to see if it could be used for military purposes, or as an energy source for society, he writes. The Great Norwegian Lexicon.
On Tuesday, the US Department of Energy boasted of the researchers’ achievement. It also highlights both its energy potential – and the advantage it could offer the United States militarily.
Livermore Laboratory made history by creating an excess of energy through fusion. The department says this breakthrough will forever change the future of clean energy and America’s national defense.
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