What is nuclear fusion energy?

Our world is constantly moving with great dynamism. In order to make the world better, a large resource is devoted to clean energy, which minimizes the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. In this sense, progress is being made in working for a future for a less polluted planet. Therefore, added to green energy, nuclear fusion energy is an alternative for such an important mission. What is it about and what has been known about it in recent days?

The announcement about nuclear fusion energy

On December 13, 2022, the US Department of Energy announced a breakthrough in power from nuclear fusion. In this way, science took an important step to develop sustainable energy that releases virtually no carbon dioxide or other types of pollutants.

The news focused on research carried out by scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. The result achieved was “net energy gain”. According to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, this was accomplished through fusion ignition. This term translates into a reaction with a final energy greater than the initial one.

The experiment successfully achieved the fusion reaction between two hydrogen atoms; it was kept in a controlled environment. And such dynamics produced vast amounts of power without burning fuel. It is even pointed out that this phenomenon replicates, on a small scale, conditions found only in the stars and the sun.

The US Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, affirmed that this development of nuclear fusion energy paves the way for the long-awaited zero carbon. If this research progresses successfully, it could be used for the production of:

  • Electricity.
  • Transport.
  • Fuels.
  • Energy.
  • Heavy industry.
  • And much more.

The experiment nuclear fusion energy

From the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory the largest laser system in the world was installed. 192 lasers were aimed at a container containing a pellet of fuel the size of a peppercorn. This particle was specifically made up of deuterium and tritium (two versions of the element hydrogen with extra neutrons).

Among what is produced in such a nuclear fusion energy reaction stands out:

  • When the lasers hit the canister, X-rays are produced that heat and compress the fuel pellet. This happens at about 20 times the density of lead and over 5 million degrees Fahrenheit.
  • 2.05 megajoules of energy were generated and directed into the container.
  • The heating temperature reached more than three million degrees Celsius.
  • Finally, the conditions were created for the generation of 3.15 megajoules of energy. This is called net profit: an impressive increase.

The researchers reveal that a gain of 1 implies that the fusion process released more energy than was delivered by the lasers. As can be seen, there was an increase in energy, which was considered a triumph. The reason? It confirms the potential that this type of reaction could be an energy source one day. So, the mission is to take what has been achieved in the laboratory on a large scale.

The advantages of nuclear fusion energy

Despite being a project at the laboratory level, it is expected that all this will allow offering almost unlimited carbon-free energy. In other words, the idea is to replace fossil fuels and other traditional energy sources. Although it may take decades, nuclear fusion power is intended to be developed in homes and businesses. In addition, its main input is hydrogen, which is remarkably abundant on our planet.

On the other hand, a nuclear fusion power plant will not pollute the air and generate little waste compared to nuclear power plants. In short, we would have a planet that is cleaner and more sustainable over time.

The future of nuclear fusion

There are many barriers to overcome before you can have electricity through nuclear fusion power. In addition to the above, a significant investment will be required by the government and private companies. However, it should be noted that other laboratories worldwide are working on this same purpose. In short, what the California scientists have achieved confirms that the dream of fusion is indeed possible.