Major Nuclear Fusion Breakthroughs Change Every Energy Landscape
An experiment records a crucial milestone for the first time in history
The shining of the stars has remained an unknown for centuries. It was not until the 1930s that scientists discovered that the sun’s unlimited energy comes from nuclear fusion, the process by which the nuclei of two atoms fuse, releasing enormous amounts of energy.
Since fusion has been understood, nuclear engineers have tried to replicate the process to build power plants for commercial purposes. But research progress in realizing this vision has been marginal.
Current nuclear power plants are based on the opposite process, fission. Instead of fusing atoms, it relies on splitting them. Reactors split the nuclei of heavy elements such as uranium to produce energy.
However, this process has considerable disadvantages. Byproducts of the process include substances that remain toxic for thousands of years.
In contrast, nuclear fusion produces little waste and is safer. Nuclear reactors fuse hydrogen atoms to create helium, releasing energy.
A power plant based on this process would generate unlimited green energy without originating long-term radioactive byproducts.
But scientists all this time have struggled to find a solution to generate a sustained fusion reaction.
In this regard, an analysis by the scientific community has confirmed a significant milestone in recent days: the first recorded “ignition,” a crucial leap forward that proves the feasibility of nuclear fusion.
A year ago, 192 lasers accessed the same thermonuclear fire that powers the sun for a few moments, achieving a self-sustaining reaction for a fraction of a second.
Previous experiments had succeeded in creating tiny fusion reactions but never an ignition.
Achieving the conditions for ignition represents an outstanding achievement at a long-standing goal that opens new vistas for experimental science.
In recent months, the significant progress that has made headlines has not stopped there.