Recently, a crucial turning point has occurred in the field of “Fusion Energy”.

 

 

For the first time in human history, a fusion reaction has generated a record-breaking energy output of 1.3 megajoules. Not only that, the resultant energy produced is more than that of energy inputted for this reaction. Which means the output energy is more than the energy input. And that makes this fusion reaction so groundbreaking.

 

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory claim that the out-turn reflects an outstanding improvement from the previous experiments on fusion reaction. This means that the results are 25 times greater than those experiments conducted in 2018.

 

Director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Kim Budil says, 

“This result is a historic step forward for inertial confinement fusion research, opening a fundamentally new regime for exploration and the advancement of our critical national security missions. It is also a testament to the innovation, ingenuity, commitment, and grit of this team and the many researchers in this field over the decades who have steadfastly pursued this goal.”

“For me, it demonstrates one of the most important roles of the national labs – our relentless commitment to tackling the biggest and most important scientific grand challenges and finding solutions where others might be dissuaded by the obstacles,” He added.

 

Mainly, there’re two ways to achieve this much energy output by the fusion reaction. 

One is MCF(Magnetic Confinement Fusion) where powerful magnets are involved and the other one is ICF(Inertial Confinement Fusion) where extremely powerful lasers are involved.

 

Preamplifiers that boost laser beams at the National Ignition Facility. (LLNL/Damien Jemison)
Preamplifiers that boost laser beams at the National Ignition Facility. (LLNL/Damien Jemison)

 

 In this great achievement, this Inertial Confinement Fusion method is used. 

They used 192 high-energy lasers which were exclusively designed for this mission.

The inertial Confinement Fusion method involves creating something like a tiny main-sequence star where a capsule consists of heavier isotopes of hydrogen which are deuterium and tritium. The capsule is placed in a “hohlraum” – a golden cylinder-shaped device used to focus and control radiation.

 

After that, these 192 high-energy lasers are flashed to the hohlraum. These laser beams indirectly hit the capsule where deuterium and tritium consist of.

“When the lasers are fired, the capsule is compressed 35 times. That is like compressing a basketball to the size of a pea,” said Debbie Callahan, a co-author of the study.

 

This much compression causes immense pressure and temperature and thus leads to a fusion reaction.

The temperature will be more than 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million Fahrenheit) and the pressure is almost equal to 100 billion Earth-like atmospheres.

 

The input energy for this fusion was almost 1.9 megajoules and the output we got is almost 1.3 megajoules. And we say the output energy is more than that of input energy. Don’t get confused. Even if inputted 1.9 megajoules of energy, the capsule only absorbed almost 5 times less.

The fusion only lasted for almost 150 picoseconds or a billionth of a second.

 

“Achieving ignition in a laboratory remains one of the scientific grand challenges of this era and this result is a momentous step forward towards achieving that goal,” said Johan Frenje, Physicist of MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center.

The Researchers presented their results at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics.

They’re going to make this fusion mission more energy-efficient and effective.

If we master this fusion technology, In future it might be able to provide unlimited sources of clean energy

 

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