An alternative to the previous method
American researchers expect a breakthrough in nuclear fusion
Scientists at a US laboratory may have made an important breakthrough in nuclear fusion research. The US Department of Energy said that US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will announce on Tuesday an “important scientific breakthrough”.
Scientists at the US federal Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have been researching nuclear fusion for years. (archive photo)
Ahead of Sunday’s announcement (local time), several media outlets had previously reported that scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) had succeeded in using an experimental fusion reactor for the first time to generate more energy than was consumed during the process.
Britain’s Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing three people involved in the research, that a “net energy gain” of 120 per cent was achieved. The Washington Post also reported on the alleged hack and quoted one fusion scientist as saying, “For most of us, it was only a matter of time.”
The US Department of Energy and the laboratory initially did not want to confirm the reports because “the analysis is still ongoing.” But they announced a statement from the minister on Tuesday.
Nuclear fusion as an alternative
In nuclear fusion, atomic nuclei are fused together at extreme temperatures. Huge amounts of energy are released in the process. Conventional nuclear power plants generate energy from the fission of atomic nuclei.
In order to bring about nuclear fusion, a large amount of energy is required. Nuclear fusion, according to its proponents, could eventually become an alternative to burning fossil fuels and the controversial nuclear fission. Although dozens of experimental reactors have been built since the 1950s, none have succeeded in generating more power than is required for the process. (SDA)
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