Government researchers have made a discovery in nuclear-fusion technology that could change the world forever—providing limitless and clean energy to the world, if it works.
- U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California announced a breakthrough in nuclear technology on Sunday—what they are calling the “Holy Grail” of energy production.
- Details haven’t been publicly released yet but researchers say they’ve managed to achieve an energy-producing fusion reaction, different from fission reactions used to release energy for current nuclear power plants, The Financial Times reports.
- A technique called “Inertial Confinement Fusion” uses a large laser to produce nuclear fusion. Lasers were used to heat hydrogen isotopes until they became plasma, fuse with helium atoms, and release energy.
- The technology could provide nearly limitless, safe, and clean energy without creating nuclear waste.
- Further details are going to be revealed at a Tuesday morning press conference.
Why it’s News
The benefits of functional fusion-reaction technology could be history-defining, as the modern world continues to struggle to find safe, efficient, carbon-free energy sources to replace fossil fuels. Unlike nuclear-fission reactors, it produces no threat of nuclear meltdown or radioactive waste.
“Nuclear fusion also uses fewer resources than other clean energy options like solar or wind power. Its main fuel consists of two hydrogen isotopes, deuterium, which can be found in water, and tritium, which can be produced from lithium. The energy created from one gram of deuterium-tritium is equal to the energy from approximately 2,400 gallons of oil,” says The Hill.
Scientists have worked for decades to try and achieve nuclear fusion as a means of power generation but up until now, the process has never generated excess energy. The technology necessary to bring fusion under control and be produced through power plants is years or decades away at the moment.
“For more than half a century, people have poured billions of dollars into nuclear fusion research, hoping to create a source of abundant, clean energy. The rough idea is this, if we develop technology that can replicate the way the sun generates energy in a controlled way, we could power the world with energy that’s free of greenhouse gas emissions and long-lived radioactive waste,” says The Verge.