Energy Dept Announces Fusion Research Breakthrough

Yahoo News reports:

The U.S. Department of Energy announced a breakthrough in nuclear fusion on Tuesday that puts the world one step closer to harnessing an abundant energy source free from carbon emissions and long-lived radioactive waste.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm confirmed that scientists achieved a reaction that created more energy than was used — known as a net energy gain — at the federally-funded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

“Last week at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, scientists at the National Ignition Facility achieved fusion ignition,” Sec. Granholm said. “It’s the first time it’s ever been done. … Simply put, this is one of the most impressive scientific feats of the 21st century.”

The BBC reports:

Nuclear fission produces a lot of radioactive waste, which can be dangerous and must be stored safely – potentially for hundreds of years. The waste produced by nuclear fusion is less radioactive and decays much more quickly.

Nuclear fusion doesn’t need fossil fuels like oil or gas. It also doesn’t generate greenhouse gases, which trap the Sun’s heat and are responsible for climate change.

Most fusion experiments use hydrogen, which can be extracted cheaply from seawater and lithium, meaning fuel supplies could last for millions of years. It has been described as the “holy grail” of energy production.