After more than 50 years of false starts, nuclear fusion is finally taking a resolute step closer to becoming the world’s newest energy source.
The US Department of Energy said Tuesday that scientists at a laboratory in California managed for the first time to generate more energy from a fusion reaction than they needed to trigger it. The milestone raises the prospect that some day — perhaps decades from now — the global economy will be run on carbon-free electricity generated by the very process that powers the sun.
“The fusion breakthrough will go down in history,” US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said during a press conference. “This is what it looks like for America to lead.”
Researchers at the Energy Department’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory used lasers to bombard hydrogen isotopes held in a superheated plasma state to fuse them into helium, releasing neutrons and carbon-free energy in the process. It’s a stunning moment for a technology that has failed for nearly half a century, and comes as leaders of the world’s 10 biggest economies — and dozens of smaller nations — have pledged to shift to clean energy sources.
Read more at Bloomberg.com