For the first time ever, experiments in nuclear fusion energy have produced more energy from fusion reactions than the amount of energy put into the fusion fuel, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists have said. The nuclear fusion researchers have described this event as a “kind of major turning point, in a lot of our minds”.
Nuclear fusion holds the prospect of an abundant source of energy for humanity; a supply without pollution, radioactive waste, or greenhouse gas emissions. It’s often thought of as the silver bullet of world energy production, and the quest has been going on for decades, and cost billions.
Although experiments have produced more energy than has been put in, the research team emphasized that they have not created ignition, which is self-heating nuclear fusion. This is what is need for the eventual development of nuclear fusion power plants.
The process of nuclear fusion is the same process that powers stars such as our sun, so it’s no easy task to ignite, harness, and control such an incredible source of energy. In a sense, solar panels already harness the nuclear fusion energy produced by our sun, but creating self-sustaining nuclear fusion energy here on earth would certainly be a giant step beyond that.
There is no word on when nuclear fusion might be able to be “cracked”, and scientists are understandably reluctant to put any kind of date on it.