According to the Financial Times, the United States Department of Energy will announce a “major scientific discovery” in fusion energy on Tuesday.
Inflation Reduction Act, a bill proposed by the Biden administration, promises $370 billion for funding low-carbon energy research.
The Financial Times was told by three people who were familiar with preliminary results of the research that scientists had succeeded in producing a fusion reaction that produced a net energy increase.
Scientists have never been able produce more energy from a nuclear fusion reaction than they can burn. However, even though this breakthrough is significant, scientists still believe that commercial use of fusion power will be decades away.
The DOE announced that Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, and Undersecretary for Energy for Nuclear Security Jill Hruby were scheduled to share the results of the experiment at a Tuesday media event.
Officials at the lab are currently finalizing their findings. According to the Financial Times, the DOE refused to comment further on the research.
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This development, if confirmed, would be a major milestone in the quest for clean energy. Scientists have been trying to harness and replicate the same fusion power as the sun since the 1950s.
The National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California was responsible for the development.
According to a senior fusion scientist who was familiar with the research, it was “only a matter time.”
People familiar with the process say that the California laboratory employs an inertial confinement-fusion process, where a hydrogen plasma pellet is smashed with the largest laser.
The Fusion reaction doesn’t emit carbon and can power a house for many centuries using a small amount of hydrogen fuel.
“Initial diagnostic data suggest another successful experiment at National Ignition Facility. The laboratory said that the exact yield was still being determined, and it’s not possible to confirm that it exceeds the threshold. “This analysis is still in progress, so publishing information… before that process has been completed would be inaccurate.”
According to Dr. Arthur Turrell (plasma physicist), “If this is confirmed we are witnessing an historic moment.”
Turrell said that scientists have been trying to prove that fusion can produce more energy than it takes since the 1950s. However, the Lawrence Livermore researchers seem to have achieved this decade-old goal.