One Step Closer to Fusion Power
The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced the achievement of fusion ignition at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). This is a major scientific breakthrough decades and billions of dollars in the making, paving the way for us to be able to produce clean fusion energy. Fusion power is considered a game-changer because it would allow us to produce electricity with no carbon footprint or radioactive waste, using fewer resources than it takes to harness solar and wind power.
On December 5, 2022, the LLNL team conducted the first controlled fusion experiment in history to reach what is known as “scientific energy breakeven”, meaning that it produced more energy from fusion than the laser energy used to drive it. Merely a theory until now, fusion combines two light nuclei to form a single heavier nucleus, releasing a large amount of energy. To achieve this milestone, LLNL built a series of powerful laser systems housed in a facility the size of a sports stadium. The lasers create temperatures and pressures comparable to cores of stars and giant planets.
There are still enormous challenges to be tackled in the decades ahead. The first is to develop machinery capable of affordably turning the reaction into electricity without destroying the machinery in the process. The hope is to address these challenges in time to have a positive impact on climate change.