Controlled fusion one step closer after successful experiment

Feb 14 2014, 9:41am CST | by , in News | Technology News

Controlled fusion one step closer after successful experiment

Experiment still fell short of ignition

Scientists around the world have been working hard for decades to produce a stable fusion reaction in the lab that generates more power than is required to start the reaction. Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have reported a successful experiment that brings us one-step closer to fusion power. The reaction the scientists created produced more power than was pumped into the capsule used to create the reaction according to CNET.

Fusion creates power by splitting lightweight atoms like hydrogen. The splitting of hydrogen atoms releases a lot of energy. The big upside to fusion rather than fission of the sort used in nuclear reactors is that no radioactive elements are needed making it much safer and cleaner.

Even though the experiment produced more electricity than was put into it, it still fell short of ignition where the experiment would have produced more power than the entire experiment used. Controlled fusion is still far from being achieved.

In this experiment, the scientists used a capsule about a millimeter across containing deuterium and tritium, both isotopes of hydrogen. That capsule was put into a system that focused the power of 192 ultraviolet lasers on the capsule with a combined 1.85 megajoules of energy.


The experiment also showed progression on what scientists call boot-strapping. Boot-strapping is a part of achieving a self-sustaining fusion reaction. "We also see...evidence for the 'bootstrapping' required to accelerate the deuterium-tritium fusion burn to eventually 'run away' and ignite," the researchers said.

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