The scientific breakthrough that could lead the way to a sustainable future

For the first time ever, a nuclear fusion has generated more power than it took to spark the reaction.

This is a major breakthrough because this fundamentally means that another sustainable source of energy has been discovered. But it sounds super complicated so let’s break it down a little.

The process of a fusion reaction is kind of like creating a really tiny star. Scientists fill a capsule with fuel and insert another capsule the size of a BIC lighter. Then they shoot the capsule with nearly 200 lasers that turn into X-Rays upon impact, which implode the capsule into a star-like state.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

The capsule is now ridiculously hot, reaching a temperature that sounds made up and exaggerated (100 million degrees to be exact). It’s also under an insane amount of pressure, more than 100 billion times the pressure of the Earth’s atmosphere, which is enough to turn the capsule into a tiny blob of plasma.

The reason this news is so exciting is because the plasma can be directly converted into electrical energy and this trial produced more of this energy than it used to create the plasma.

Scientists are often experimenting with fusion reactions but this most recent trial produced more than eight times the amount of energy generated by previous experiments that took place in August.

Scientists are working to increase the efficiency of the procedure by minimising the amount of energy it takes to initiate the reaction.

Basically, once we get one fusion reactor off the ground, it can use some of that power to create another and another until well, the whole planet is powered by fusion! Maybe? Something like that… Hopefully!

It sounds too good to be true and there’s still a fair bit of research to be done and the team of physicists at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are yet to submit their work for peer review but this is already huge news for the future of renewable energy.

In the meantime, you can learn more about the ground-breaking progress here.