US, nuclear power’s historic turning point arrives

US, nuclear power’s historic turning point arrives

A few more hours and the dream of nuclear fusion, the “Holy Grail of energy”, that is, a process capable of generating more energy than is used to start it, could become a reality. The turn should be announced today by the US Department of Energy, even if mouths are still closed about this “revolution” – the result of a nuclear meltdown. The only confirmations come from a communication about a “major scientific breakthrough” to be made by US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and Under Secretary Jill Hruby of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

From the Californian structure, the success of an experiment carried out at the National Ignition Facility is admitted, but it is highlighted how the researchers are still refining the analyses. The National Ignition Facility is a $3.5 billion facility that started out as a military facility to test nuclear weapons by simulating explosions, but was later used for research into fusion power generation. As anticipated by the Financial Times, the federal laboratory would have defined a process called “fusion by inertial confinement” which involves bombarding a tiny ball of hydrogen plasma with the world’s largest laser, at the end of which there would be a network gain in power.

The fusion reaction at the California facility produced about 2.5 megajoules of energy, or about 120% of the 2.1 megajoules of energy emitted by the lasers, confirm people close to the research, explaining how the data is still being compiled. It is the first time that more energy has been produced in a fusion reaction than is needed to activate the process. In fact, the energy surplus obtained – according to the FT – would have damaged some equipment used in the experiment.

It is a result that – underlines the British newspaper – does not mean that the generation of energy for consumers through nuclear fusion is just around the corner, but which, however, shows “a technology potential that is difficult to ignore”, given that these reactions do not emit carbon, do not produce radioactive waste, and a small amount of hydrogen fuel could theoretically power a home for hundreds of years. “For most of us, it was just a matter of time,” explained a scientist involved in the “venture” to the Washington Post.

Source: IL Tempo