A team of engineers working at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California believe they are officially at the “Threshold of Nuclear Fusion Ignition” after passing a major milestone.
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Today the team announced that on August 8th they had been able to produce 1.3 megajoules of energy – 70% of the laser energy put in. This puts the experiment in sight of Fusions major milestone of showing that the energy released by fusion exceeds the energy delivered by the laser.
The idea behind Nuclear fusion is that you can slam two atoms slammed together in a reactor to form a heavier nucleus and unleash are larger amount of energy than your put in starting the reaction while practically producing no harmful emissions – this is the way the Sun and other stars produce energy.
Fusion is so promising that physicists have been trying to develop methods to safely harness this process for decades. The announcement by the LLNL researchers brings working Fusion one step closer to “ignition”.
The team will now need to go one step further in order to achieve ignition and produce more than the 1.9 MJ emitted by the laser. While today’s announcement of the 1.3 megajoules release does not constitute ignition, it is a significant step towards reaching that milestone and is 25 times more energy than experiments conducted back in 2018 by the same team.
In a press statement, the team explained that “this advancement puts researchers at the threshold of fusion ignition, an important goal of the NIF, and opens access to a new experimental regime,” a press statement from the researchers reads.