The United States reveals scientific milestones on fusion energy sources According to Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An aerial photograph shows the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, U.S., July 5, 2011. Courtesy of the National Nuclear Security Administration / Release document via REUTERS / File Photo

By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Energy will announce on Tuesday that scientists at the national laboratory have made a breakthrough in fusion, the process that powers the sun and other materials. star that could one day provide cheap electricity, said three sources with knowledge of the matter.

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (NYSE:) in California achieved a net energy gain for the first time, in a laser fusion experiment, one of them said.

Although the result is an important milestone in a scientific quest that has been in development since at least the 1930s, the proportion of energy that goes into the reaction at Livermore to get energy out of it needs to be greater. about 100 times to create a commercial volume production process. electricity, one of the sources said.

FT first test report.

Fusion works when the nuclei of two atoms are subjected to extremely high temperatures of 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million degrees Fahrenheit) or higher that cause them to fuse into a new, larger atom, releasing huge amounts of energy. .

But the process consumes a large amount of energy and the trick is to make the process self-sustaining and gain more energy than going in and doing so continuously rather than for short moments.

If fusion is commercialized, which advocates say could happen in a decade or so, it would have additional benefits including virtually carbon-free electricity generation, could help combat climate change without the radioactive nuclear waste produced today by fission. reactor.

However, operating a power plant that does not use fusion poses difficult obstacles, such as how to control heat economically and keep the laser beam running smoothly. Other fusion methods use magnets instead of lasers.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is scheduled to hold a news conference on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. EST (15:00 GMT) about a “major scientific breakthrough.”

A spokesman said the department had no information prior to the briefing.

Lawrence Livermore focused primarily on national security issues related to nuclear weapons and thermonuclear experiments that could lead to safer testing of the nation’s arsenal with such bombs.

But advances at the lab could also help the efforts of companies hoping to develop fusion-powered power plants, including Commonwealth Fusion Systems, Focused Energy and General Fusion.

Investors including Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and John Doerr have poured money into the companies building the merger. The private industry secured more than $2.8 billion last year, according to the Fusion Industry Association, totaling about $5 billion in recent years.

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