Nuclear Matinee: Scientists announce nuclear fusion breakthrough

Researchers at the National Ignition Facility in California announced this week that they had achieved a major milestone on the path toward nuclear fusion as an energy source, as described in a paper published in the science journal Nature. For the first time, the energy produced in a nuclear fusion reaction in a confined hydrogen fuel exceeded the energy put in to start the reaction.  Science reporter Gautam Naik explains at the Wall Street Journal:

Much work remains before the process, in theory, reaches the point of “ignition” in which a fusion reaction continues on its own and is self-sustaining. See Lawrence Livermore Laboratory’s report on the breakthrough, and interviews with some of the scientists involved at the Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal.

Great science, breathtaking engineering, and a landmark achievement with the exciting prospect of continued progress and unforeseen future benefits along the way. The promise of massively abundant energy without pollution, radioactive waste, or greenhouse gases seems closer. And as James Conca suggests at Forbes… is it also already here?

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Thanks to the WSJ Digital Network.

4 Responses to Nuclear Matinee: Scientists announce nuclear fusion breakthrough

  1. Jeff Walther

    I recommend reading the article and comments at nextbigfuture on the topic. While slightly more energy emerged from the pellet than went in….

    One hundred times as much laser energy was emitted by the lasers as entered the fuel. The lasers emitted 1.9 megajoules of energy, but were supplied with 500 megajoules of electrical energy (perhaps including a capacitive concentrating stage).

    So the fuel emits 17,000 joules of diffuse energy, but 500 megajoules of concentrated electrical energy went into causing the process — not counting the energy needed to manufacture the precision machined and formed target pellet.

    Even if you made the lasers ten times as efficient and the adsorption of the laser emissions by the target ten times more efficient, this process would still lose energy by a factor over 100.

    It is only by an extremely selective definition of “energy in” that this process makes an energy profit.

  2. I was an engineer @LLNL at MFTF B. Circa 1980……..Now….the laser fusion work is a weapons effort primarily…..wonderful tech but certainly not focused on energy production.. I will read the paper before commenting on any issue addressing break even……watch this definition closely..
    ,

  3. Farshid shahrokhi

    The announcement is simply an advertisement for the weapons lab. They have selectively defined energy-in and energy-out boundaries to show slight positive to continue funding for the lab.

  4. This NASA document is noteworthy, fusion engineering pgs. 8, 37, and 57.
    Future Strategic Issues 7/01/ Future Warfare [Circa 2025]
    http://fedgeno.com/documents/future-strategic-issues-and-warfare.pdf

    This U.K. Ministry of Defence Strategic Trends Programme – 4th Edition – Feb, 10th, 2014. Global Strategic Trends – Out to 2040, commercial fusion reactors pg 92.
    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/33717/GST4_v9_Feb10.pdf

    These thse two SPAWAR fusion technology patents now in advanced engineering and commercialization.

    “System and Method for Generating Particles” US 8419919B1 – Jwk International Corporation, The United States Of America As Represented By The Secretary Of The Navy

    https://www.google.com/patents/US8419919?dq=System+and+Method+for+Generating+Particles&hl=en&sa=X&ei=W00JU46sBZPhoASOvoLYBg&ved=0CDUQ6AEwAA

    “A Hybrid Fusion Fast Fission Reactor ” WO 2009108331 A3

    https://www.google.com/patents/WO2009108331A3?cl=en&dq=A+hybrid+fusion+fast+fission+reactor&hl=en&sa=X&ei=LE0JU4C8KNXfoATduYHoDA&ved=0CDUQ6AEwAA