Exciting Breakthroughs in Nuclear Fusion
For decades, nuclear fusion has been hailed as something of a Holy Grail in the field of clean energy. The ability to bring together two otherwise innocuous elements to produce a massive amount of energy through subatomic fusion has the potential to change the way we think about energy generation and production.
There’s only one problem: Scientists have yet to achieve a fusion reaction that generates more energy than was needed to trigger it — until now. A recent breakthrough experiment has demonstrated that not only the possibility of nuclear fusion but also the likelihood of our achieving it with a net energy positive.
Recapping 2022’s breakthrough ignition test
In late 2022, scientists initiated a nuclear fusion test that, for the first time, resulted in net-positive energy production. The experiment, as simplified by NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel, represents a noteworthy breakthrough in confirming fusion theory: “Last week, researchers pointed 192 laser beams at a tiny diamond sphere the size of a peppercorn. Inside was hydrogen fuel. The lasers went zap. The peppercorn imploded. And the fuel ignited in a fusion burn that released more energy than the lasers put in.”
This breakthrough ignition test showed that, as theories have suggested, a fusion reaction can generate more power than was used to create it. It’s a milestone giving scientists a semblance of hope — namely, that fusion reactors can finally deliver on decades of promises built on the ability to create clean energy in great abundance.
The incredible potential of nuclear fusion
The 2022 ignition test is the result of more than a century of scientific work and exploration. If repeatable, it suggests scientists are just years away from harnessing the catalysts necessary to derive more energy from fusion reaction than they put in. It unlocks potential for a brand-new energy future — one where laser fusion can generate near-limitless safe, clean energy.
But what does theoretical limitless energy mean? It’s a concept set to change the everyday lives of the average person.
Fusion is the perfect source of energy, relying on hydrogen as fuel — which is the most abundant element in the universe. That means the world will no longer depend on scarce natural resources, including unreliable foreign sources of fuel. Developing and perfecting fusion energy could create energy security, the likes of which we’ve never seen.
Is fusion the answer to manufacturing’s demand?
Fusion has the potential to change life as we know it, including life on the factory floor. Manufacturing desperately needs a renewable, affordable energy source, and fusion is a major leap in that direction. While geothermal, solar, and wind costs have fallen thanks to major investments and advances in technology, fusion will be the biggest leap forward yet, one promising limitless clean, affordable energy.