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Nuclear fusion: a "giant leap" and a "historic breakthrough" achieved by an American laboratory

Nuclear fusion: a “giant leap” and a “historic breakthrough” achieved by an American laboratory

Some researchers consider nuclear fusion Like the future of our energy. This is for several reasons. Today, the production of nuclear energy is the subject of strong disputes. It depends on the fission process: the bonds of heavy atomic nuclei are broken to release energy.

This technology certainly makes it possible to generate a huge amount of energy, but with some risk, due to the instability of a heavy atom projected onto a neutron. This process also produces a large volume of radioactive waste, whose management remains problematic. Moreover comes the question Nuclear power plant accidents. These accidents have serious consequences for the environment and the population.

Historic breakthrough in nuclear fusion

The fusion It uses a reversible mechanism to generate power. This technique consists of combining two lighter atomic nuclei to obtain a new, heavier nucleus. Note that this natural process moves all stars, including our Sun. nuclear fusion Produces little waste and does not emit any greenhouse gases. Hence his interest in energy researchers.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is attached to the US Department of Energy. Its main task is to develop nuclear weapons for the United States. However, her field of study also extends to energy research. Its facility in Livermore, California, houses the National Ignition Facility (NIF) – an extremely powerful research laser. This Permes to know Historic breakthrough in nuclear fusionLLNL announced.

10 quadrillion watts per second

Thus, American researchers used NIF – the size of three football fields – to Impressive power output. They focused a giant laser emitting nearly 200 beams on a tiny dot to create a huge blast of energy, eight times more than they did before. The test, conducted August 8, resulted in a hot spot the diameter of a human hair. This generated more than 10 quadrillion watts of power for a period of 100 trillion seconds.

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Illustrative image. image credit: stock struggle / Nipples

Despite the very short nature of the energy obtained, researchers talk about a major step towards exploiting nuclear energy by fusion. ” This finding is a historic breakthrough for research into the fusion of self-confinement. ‘ commented Kim Poodle, managing director of LLNL.

First major advance since 1972

The nuclear centers that produces energy by fusion is not for tomorrow yet. Researchers in the US lab must first get to and Exceed the ignition threshold. This will allow them to provoke the desired fusion reaction. LLNL aims to achieve this goal for the next exam, which will take several months to prepare.

Specialist in Nuclear Fusion at Imperial College London in the UK, Steve Rose He describes the experience as The most significant advance in inertial fusion since its inception in 1972 ». « Converting this concept to a renewable electric energy source is likely to be a lengthy process and will involve overcoming significant technical challenges. Another prominent researcher from the British University noted, Jeremy Chittenden.