Fusion Reaction Creates More Energy Than Absorbed By Fuel For First Time
Physicists have made history with an experiment that saw a fusion reaction create more energy than the amount absorbed by the fuel used to trigger it.
Described by scientists at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a ‘historic step forward for inertial confinement fusion research’, the fusion reaction achieved a record energy output of 1.3 megajoules.
The output, achieved in August, proved to be eight times greater than experiments conducted just a few months prior, and 25 times greater than experiments performed in 2018.
The ultimate goal of the inertial confinement fusion experiment was to achieve ignition; a point at which the energy created by the fusion process proves greater than the total energy input.
Though the experiment did not quite succeed in achieving ignition, its results proved noteworthy as the fuel capsule used generated more than five times as much energy as it absorbed in the fusion process, Science Alert reports.
Kim Budil, director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, said in a press release the experiment opened ‘a fundamentally new regime for exploration and the advancement of our critical national security missions’.
It is also a testament to the innovation, ingenuity, commitment and grit of this team and the many researchers in this field over the decades who have steadfastly pursued this goal.
For me, it demonstrates one of the most important roles of the national labs – our relentless commitment to tackling the biggest and most important scientific grand challenges and finding solutions where others might be dissuaded by the obstacles.
Following the experiment earlier this year, the team planned to perform more studies to see if they could replicate their results and study the process in greater detail, as well as to work out how to further increase energy efficiency.
The physicists will be submitting a paper on their results for peer review.
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