Will nuclear fusion be the clean energy of our future?December 16, 2022
US Department of Energy officials have announced that scientists have made a historic breakthrough.
US Department of Energy (DoE) officials recently announced that US researchers had achieved a milestone breakthrough in nuclear fusion, having for the first time produced more energy than was used to power the experiment.
Scientists were able to use fusion to produce more energy than was used to power the lasers they used.
The nuclear fusion net energy gain is considered to be a major milestone in energy science and in the attempt to develop a source of limitless, clean energy. The process occurs when two or more atoms are fused together. While this has already been achieved by researchers, what is novel about the latest development is that they were able to fuse the atoms using less energy than was produced.
@hankgreen1I hope i got all of this right!! Its so exciting!!!♬ original sound – Hank Green
The experiment required a massive 2.05 megajoules of energy to power lasers aimed at the target, but the result was 3.15 megajoules of energy output. This meant that they were able to generate 50 percent more energy than they used to power the reaction. This is a meaningful energy gain.
“This monumental scientific breakthrough is a milestone for the future of clean energy,” said a statement from US Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA).
The nuclear fusion achievement was made by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists.
The research team were from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility in California. The achievement was made on December 5, 2022 and announced this week. The facility used is about the size of a sports stadium, and the team used 192 very high-powered lasers to produce the reaction.
The breakthrough was a “milestone,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. “Ignition allows us to replicate, for the first time, certain conditions that are only found in the stars and sun,” she said. “This milestone moves us one significant step closer to the possibility of zero-carbon, abundant fusion energy powering our society.”
According to Granholm, the Livermore scientists and other labs are moving the US forward in an effort to achieve clean energy without the requirement for nuclear testing as a nuclear deterrent.
“This is what it looks like for America to lead, and we’re just getting started,” explained Granholm. “If we can advance fusion energy, we could use it to produce clean electricity, transportation fuels, power, heavy industry and so much more.”
That said, it’s important to recognize that this is only the very earliest step in nuclear fusion as an energy source. It is a critical step but doesn’t mean that it will be available in the short term. Progress with renewable power and hydrogen fuel, among other sources of clean energy, remain critical even if the future of clean, sustainable energy is nuclear fusion.
The director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Kim Budil called the breakthrough a “fundamental building block” to one day using this technology as a form of powering electricity. That said, in her estimations, “a few decades” of work are still needed before it will be available for commercial use.
“I think it’s moving into the foreground and probably with concerted effort and investment, a few decades of research on the underlying technologies could put us in a position to build a power plant,” said Budil. “With real investment and real focus, that timescale can move closer.”
HYDROGEN POLL: Cost and infrastructure aside, are you ready to use hydrogen as a source of fuel for home heating?
Hydrogen Fusion – still “only 20 years away” since 1950…
How about we strong arm the petro boys into allowing bulk H2 storage projects? Without that key piece, all this renewable energy effort is relegated to “also ran” status. Magnum Energy has been trying to get this obvious solution off the ground for 15 years against resounding lobbyist-driven Legislative apathy. Utility grade energy storage makes H2 work, not H2 cars with microscopic infrastructure. The local H2 station sited on the mighty I5 freeway contains the equivalent energy of about 55 gallons of gasoline. A very pro-forma effort, but checks a box. We can do better.
While producing more energy from this nuclear fusion of hydrogen than required to start it, is a momentous milestone in fusion technology, the 2.05 megajoules used is hardly “a massive 2.05 megajoules of energy” as described in this article, as it is only 0.594 kWh. The 3.15 megajoules produced is just 0.875 kWh, less than the power to run a small electric heater for less than an hour, or do I or the article have our figures wrong?
Commenting on the vote for the use of hydrogen for heating a home, this is not as efficient as a ground source heat pump which will provide more than 4 times the heat of a gas fired boiler (furnace) for the same energy input. Also a gas furnace produces harmful nitrogen oxides and a heat pump does not.
Heat pumps that I’ve been exposed to do very little to supply sufficient heat during the coldest months of January and February in the mountains of far Western Maryland. Supplemental heating sources must be applied to maintain comfortable home temperatures. If a heat pump must be supplemented why have one? This in new construction supposed energy efficient by the latest codes.
Heat pumps don’t work well below 40-45F. Nothing new there. The good news is that the industry got to sell one more unit after assisting in writing the building codes. If you lived someplace that had a winter temp of 50-55F you’d likely have no issue. Propane or wood supplemental heat, or add 6-10KW of Net Metered PV and electric duct heat.
NOx is a function of burner design. Heat pumps (air-air) are great where it doesn’t get below 45-50F. Ground source heat pumps require you to have some significant trenchable property. A “gaspack” (AC only & gas duct heater) is less liable to failure as there are fewer internal bits to fail. Your heat pump goes south, you’ve lost everything. As far as “Also a gas furnace produces harmful nitrogen oxides and a heat pump does not.”, consider that the electricity likely comes from combusting NatGas or coal…no magic bullets there unless you live in Hydro or Nuclear service territory.
I am ready to use hydrogen energy if it is green hydrogen. If it is not green hydrogen, then we should just content ourselves into overpopulating the ecology of life into oblivion.
Isn’t that the plan? Breed up to the limit of the food supply, then hope one of the 4-Horseman cuts us back to the stone age so we’re absolved from the imaginary heresy of self control? Works for the cereal weevils in my Cheerios. Of course, the “carrying capacity” of the range is reduced by that strategy of overgraze – crash – repeat. Homo Sapiens, just too stoopid to live?
H2 bulk storage in salt caverns or oil wells is the only cheap & reasonable utility grade energy storage methodology we have, it just can’t seem to get past the petro lobbyists. Too bad the legislature is full of PolSci majors & lawyers, not science majors. We’re so screwed.
Yes, a renewable, Green Hydrogen Economy is the intermediate stage that must bridge the way, giving us a way to store energy AND water (for those who haven’t considered that increasingly crucial ancillary advantage, in our drying world)
Write your Congressman, ask why NREL isn’t allowed to assist in utility grade H2 oilwell/salt dome bulk storage projects. We’re slaves to the Petro cartels and the GenPops general science ignorance. The mercenary idiots in my Utility company just LOVE batteries. They don’t hold enough power to seriously challenge their wheeling practices and vividly increase Capital Money Spend with its attendant guaranteed +10% rate of return. They rot in place nicely too, it’s that amortization thing.