'Continuous' nuclear fusion comes one step closer
Researchers in the US have reached a milestone in the journey to create a source of unlimited energy
Tuesday 08 October 2013
Researchers at a California lab have got one step closer in achieving self-sustaining nuclear fusion.
If successfully harnessed, fusion - the process which powers the sun - could become an unlimited, and crucially, cheap source of energy.
In order to become a viable, sustainable form of energy, power plants driven with fusion would need to produce more energy than they consume, which has yet to happen.
A group of scientists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF), based at Livermore in California, last month brought self-sustaining fusion closer to becoming reality.
The facility, which served as a backdrop to the movie Star Trek: Into Darkness, uses 192 beams from the world's most powerful laser to heat and compress a pellet containing Hydrogen fuel until nuclear fusion occurs.
The BBC reports that during a fusion experiment in late September, the team found the amount of energy released via the fusion reaction for the first time exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel. This is the first time that this had been achieved in a purpose-built scientific facility.
Scientists have tried to create this kind of controlled nuclear fusion for the past 50 years, however none were successful.
The NIF's goal is to create a situation where nuclear fusion generates as much energy as the lasers supply, a process known as 'ignition'.
Currently, 'inefficiencies' in the fusion-producing system mean that some of the energy supplied through the laser is delivered to the fuel.
Fusion is markedly different from current methods of obtaining nuclear power, which operate through spitting atoms. This process is known as fission, whereas fusion involves squashing atoms together.
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
- 3 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 4 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Isis publicly behead man in Syrian town square for 'insulting Allah' as he screams for help
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Sir David Attenborough interview: The one question about life that still baffles him
Isis publicly behead man in Syrian town square for 'insulting Allah' as he screams for help
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning digital publishing solution...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: NON-CONTENTIOUS (0-2 PQE) - A rare opportunity...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Financial Analyst is required to join...