The National Ignition Facility just made a major breakthrough toward achieving self-sustaining nuclear fusion. The California lab got more energy out of its fuel than went into the fuel.
Images © National Ignition Facility
Researchers at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, said: “We’re one step closer to ignition, when the reaction becomes self-sustaining.”
With a composite of 192 lasers, the highest-energy laser in the world, all directed on one tiny piece of the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium until the deuterium and the tritium fuse together, to release a huge burst of energy.
Fusion is the process that powers active or “main sequence” stars, out Sun.
A self-sufficient clean energy creation on Earth for an “endless” cheap supply of power.
Nuclear fusion is a nuclear reaction in which two or more atomic nuclei collide at a very high speed and join to form a new type of atomic nucleus. During this process, matter is not conserved because some of the mass of the fusing nuclei is converted to photons (energy).
The fusion of two nuclei with lower masses than iron (which, along with nickel, has the largest binding energy per nucleon) generally releases energy, while the fusion of nuclei heavier than iron absorbs energy. The opposite is true for the reverse process, nuclear fission. This means that fusion generally occurs for lighter elements only, and likewise, that fission normally occurs only for heavier elements. There are extreme astrophysical events that can lead to short periods of fusion with heavier nuclei. This is the process that gives rise to nucleosynthesis, the creation of the heavy elements during events such as supernova.
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