The US Department of Energy will announce on Tuesday that scientists have been able to produce one for the first time fusion reaction This creates a net energy gain, an important milestone in the decades-long multibillion-dollar quest to develop technology that provides unlimited, cheap and clean energy.
The objective of merger investigation It represents the nuclear reaction that creates energy in the sun. It’s the “holy grail” of carbon-free energy that scientists have been chasing since the 1950s. It’s still at least a decade, perhaps decades, away from commercial use, but the Biden administration may tout the latest development as a testament to the government’s massive investment over the years.
Huge amounts of public and private funding have been tied up in the fusion race around the world, with the goal of eventually building fusion engines that can power the grid. No carbon footprint, No radioactive waste And using solar and wind power is much less resource intensive than needed.
Beyond the climate benefits, promoters say it could help bring cheaper electricity to poorer parts of the world. “For most of us, it was just a matter of time,” said one fusion scientist National Ignition Facility The discovery was made at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.
The Financial Times The development was first reported on Sunday. This was confirmed by two people involved in the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid coming ahead of an official announcement. US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is set to announce a “major scientific breakthrough” at a press event tomorrow.
The department and the laboratory declined to provide preliminary information. A lab official said the researchers were still finalizing their analysis and would not release any official findings before Tuesday.
The science of Nuclear fusion is based on the fusion of two atoms at incredibly high speeds and converts the energy from that reaction into electricity that can power homes and offices Without releasing carbon into the air or releasing radioactive waste into the environment.
In the decades that scientists have been experimenting with fusion reactions, they haven’t been able to create one that produces more energy than they use up so far. Although the achievement is significant, more monumental engineering and scientific challenges lie ahead.
to create Net energy gain That required the involvement of one of the largest lasers in the world, and the resources required to recreate the reaction on a scale necessary to make fusion practical for energy production were enormous. More importantly, engineers can use machines and equipment capable of converting that reaction into electricity in an affordable power grid.
To build devices large enough to generate fusion power at scale, scientists say, would require materials that are extraordinarily hard to manufacture. At the same time, the reaction produces neutrons, which put so much pressure on the generating device that it destroys itself in the process.
The question is whether the technology can be met in time to make a dent in climate change. Still, fusion technology researchers and investors hailed the development as an important breakthrough.
“I’m very proud that this is a turning point in America,” he said. David Edelman, Head of Policy and Global Affairs at TAE, a large private fusion energy company. “This is a very important milestone on the path to fusion power.”
This scientific progress occurs during management Joe Biden It prioritizes fusion energy research in its climate and energy agenda. The projects are the first in a series of tens of billions of dollars in grants and subsidies approved by Major. Climate Synthesis That Biden signed in the summer Inflation Act.
Over the past few decades, the United States, Russia, and many European countries have devoted billions of government dollars to trying to master science, believing that if they could, it would be a boon to the world.
* The Washington Post journalists Evan Halber and Franz Verma
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