Reports: Nuclear fusion net energy gain breakthrough achieved

Reports: Nuclear fusion net energy gain breakthrough achieved

Technology News |
By Peter Clarke

A breakthrough in nuclear fusion energy generation has been achieved by scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, according to the Financial Times and other reports.

The reports state that nuclear fusion with net energy gain has been achieved in experiments in the last two weeks. An announcement is expected on Tuesday, December 13.

The progress towards sustainable energy generating fusion could usher in a dramatic change in the world as it theoretically enables an abundant source of energy that is an alternative to fossil fuels and energy based on nuclear fission. However, while net energy gain –  the release of more energy from a fusion reaction than is required to squeeze the hydrogen nuclei together – is an important milestone, the establishment of a fusion electricity infrastructure is still likely to be many years away.

More out than in

The FT reported that the fusion reaction at Lawrence Livermore produced about 2.5 megajoules of energy compared with 2.1 megajoules of energy put into lasers to squeeze heavy hydrogen nuclei together. The US uses a system called inertial confinement fusion.

Last February experiments at the Joint European Torus (JET) in Harwell, England reported the production of 59 megajoules of heat energy from fusion over a five second period or an 11 megawatt output.

Results from JET are being fed into the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) and experimental tokamak being built in France. ITER includes the European Union, the UK and Switzerland, India, Japan, South Korea, the US, Russia and China.

Related links and articles:

Financial Times article


News articles:

£220m for UK’s first active fusion reactor

Jacobs wins major UK fusion contract


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