The US Department of Energy announced on Tuesday a “major scientific breakthrough” in nuclear fusion that could revolutionize energy production and pave the way for a move away from fossil fuels.
American scientists have come one step closer to realizing the dream of producing clean, reliable and inexhaustible electricity, through fusion reaction, according to US media.
US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm described the initiation of fusion ignition as a “major scientific breakthrough” that would lead to “development in the areas of national defense and the future of clean energy.”
“Simply put, this is one of the most impressive scientific achievements of the 21st century,” she said of the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
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According to the laboratory’s tweet on Twitter, an experiment it conducted last week “produced, through nuclear fusion, a greater amount of energy” used in lasers to start the reaction.
The director of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, Kim Bodell, described nuclear fusion as “one of the most important scientific challenges humanity has ever faced.”
And unlike nuclear fission, which provides the world with electricity, fusion does not generate emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Hence, nuclear fusion can play a role in mitigating climate change in the future, according to a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Researchers have tried for decades to replicate the fusion process, which is essentially the way the sun gets energy.
And, “If the sun’s nuclear fusion can be reproduced on the planet, we will be able to provide inexhaustible energy, which is clean, safe and affordable to meet the global energy demand,” according to the IAEA.
The agency says that fusion results in the production of a huge amount of energy, four times the amount of energy that results from nuclear fission reactions.
The scientific success comes at a time when the world is grappling with soaring energy prices and feels the need to phase out burning fossil fuels to prevent global temperatures from rising to dangerous levels.