The (Positive) Energy of Fusion

This post is by Om Malik from On my Om

We live in stranger times, when the day there is good news is now a red letter day. Today happens to be one of those days. I woke up to the news that a very close friend had a healthy baby boy. What a delight it is to be an uncle again. A few minutes later, I learned about the pending arrest and extradition of a con man and sociopath, Sam Bankman-Fried. And to cap it all, the Laurence Livermore Laboratory announced that it had achieved a breakthrough that makes fusion energy a reality. 

On Dec. 5, a team at LLNL’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) conducted the first controlled fusion experiment in history to reach this milestone, also known as scientific energy breakeven, meaning it produced more energy from fusion than the laser energy used to drive it. 

LLNL’s experiment surpassed the fusion threshold by delivering 2.05 megajoules (MJ) of energy to the target, resulting in 3.15 MJ of fusion energy output, demonstrating for the first time a most fundamental science basis for inertial fusion energy (IFE).

Fusion is the process by which two light nuclei combine to form a single heavier nucleus, releasing a large amount of energy. In the 1960s, a group of pioneering scientists at LLNL hypothesized that lasers could be used to induce fusion in a laboratory setting. Led by physicist John Nuckolls, who later served as LLNL director from 1988 to 1994, this revolutionary idea became inertial confinement fusion, kicking off more than 60 years (Read more...)