US achieves major scientific breakthrough in fusion technology

World Wednesday 14/December/2022 07:20 AM
US achieves major scientific breakthrough in fusion technology

Washington: The United States has achieved a major scientific breakthrough in fusion technology that will pave the way for advancements in national defence and the future of "clean" power, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced on Tuesday.

A team at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California conducted the first controlled fusion experiment in history to achieve a "scientific energy breakeven" that "produced more energy from fusion than the laser energy used to drive it," the Energy Department said in a statement issued jointly with the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). "This historic, first-of-its kind achievement will provide unprecedented capability to support NNSA's Stockpile Stewardship Program and will provide invaluable insights into the prospects of clean fusion energy, which would be a game-changer for efforts to achieve President Biden's goal of a net-zero carbon economy," the statement said.

US media reports have said that proponents of fusion hope to one-day produce nearly limitless, carbon-free energy and displace fossil fuels as well as other traditional energy sources. Experts said net energy gain has been an elusive goal because fusion happens at inordinately high temperatures and pressures that are very difficult to control.

While producing energy that powers homes and businesses from fusion might be decades away, the achievement by the team at Lawrence Livermore is nonetheless significant, the reports said.

"We have had a theoretical understanding of fusion for over a century, but the journey from knowing to doing can be long and arduous. Today's milestone shows what we can do with perseverance," said White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Arati Prabhakar said.

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he has secured what he described as the "highest ever authorisation" of more than USD 624 million for this year to enable researchers to build on the fusion breakthrough. "This astonishing scientific advance puts us on the precipice of a future no longer reliant on fossil fuels but instead powered by new clean fusion energy," he said.