The same process that the sun uses to create energy, nuclear fusion could provide the world with much-needed cheap energy. Scientists say that one kilogram of fusion fuel can provide the same amount of energy as 10 million kilograms of fossil fuel.
Fusion occurs when atomic nuclei collide together and release energy in the form of neutrons. Until now, the main problem has been that nuclear fusion experiments always required more energy than they were able to create.
Researchers at the National Ignition Facility at Livermore, California have now been able to shift that balance.
The NIF, using 192 of the world’s most powerful lasers, heated a small pellet of hydrogen to millions of degrees. In the nanoseconds that followed, the capsule imploded, releasing more energy than fuel for the process consumed.
Researchers have been diligently working towards this kind of breakthrough since 1997, when the facility opened its doors. The brainchild of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, NIF holds a 130 ton target chamber where the neutrons are fired by the 192 lasers stimulate the fusion reaction. . . .