Scientists in the United States are on the cusp of achieving a long-standing goal of nuclear fusion research, which is supposed to provide an unlimited and clean source of energy.
In the experiment carried out at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in California, experts used a powerful laser to heat and compress fuel hydrogen, approaching the key target of nuclear fusion “ignition”. reported the BBC.
The energy of the last experiment would be 8 times higher than the previous NIF record, set in spring 2021, and 25 times higher than the energy obtained in 2018.
In the experiment conducted on August 8, 70 percent (1.35 MJ) of the 1.9 megajoule (MJ) energy directed to the fuel capsule was obtained. To reach the ignition target, it is necessary to obtain an energy greater than the energy of 1.9 MJ directed by the laser.
“This result is a historic advance in ‘inertial confinement fusion’ research,” said Kim Budil, director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which integrates the NIF. noted.
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Debbie Callahan, a physicist in the same lab, said: “This is a big step forward for fusion and the entire fusion community.” made his assessment.
Noting that self-sustaining combustion is essential for high efficiency, Callahan said, “In order to obtain a large amount of fusion energy, the combustion must switch to a high density fuel. We believe this has happened in our experience, but we continue to do so. analyzes and simulations to fully understand the result. ”used the expression.
Callahan stressed that it is necessary to understand how the results are reproducible and sensitive to small changes. noted.
Professor Jeremy Chittenden, co-director of the Center for Inertial Fusion Studies at Imperial College London, said: “The pace of progress in power generation is rapid, indicating that we may soon be reaching new milestones. , such as extracting more energy from the lasers used. to start the process. ”he said.
“If we can work on how to keep the fuel together longer and burn more of it, much higher fusion energy can be achieved through ignition. This will be the next key target for inertial confinement fusion. “said Chittenden. used the expression.
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Chittenden warned that turning this research into a usable energy source will not be easy. “Converting the concept into a renewable electric power source is likely to be a long process and will require overcoming significant technical challenges. ” noted.
Professor Steven Rose, co-director of the same research center at Imperial College London, also noted that the NIF teams have done a remarkable job: “This is the most significant breakthrough in the merger. by inertial confinement since its creation in 1972. ” made the statement.
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It is believed that using fusion powering the sun could provide an unlimited and clean source of energy. Nuclear fusion energy is considered by some scientists to be the potential energy of the future, especially since it produces little waste and does not produce greenhouse gases.