US scientists confirm ‘major breakthrough’ in nuclear fusion
This article was published in The Guardian, 14 December 2022: US scientists confirm ‘major breakthrough’ in nuclear fusion
Scientists have confirmed a major breakthrough has been made that could pave the way for abundant clean energy in the future after more than half a century of research into nuclear fusion.
Researchers at the US National Ignition Facility in California said fusion experiments had released more energy than was pumped in by the lab’s enormous, high-powered lasers, a landmark achievement known as ignition or energy gain.
According to Dr Warren McKenzie, founder & MD of Australian laser fusion company, HB11 Energy:
“The achievement of net energy gain from laser fusion is as significant to the global energy industry as the first moon landing was for the space industry. But this ‘holy grail’ scientific milestone has far greater implications for the world at large, given it finally unlocks the prospect of unlimited clean energy.
“The National Ignition Facility result is also significant because it shows that lasers, rather than magnetic confinement, may be the fastest pathway to commercial and scalable fusion energy production.
“This is why we are today announcing that HB11 Energy has created a coalition of global laser technology heavyweights to kickstart a new high-power laser industry, including by developing a petawatt-class laser facility on Australian soil.
“HB11 Energy co-founder, Professor Heinrich Hora, one of the pioneers of laser fusion globally, predicted laser fusion would be possible decades ago. We founded HB11 Energy together in the pursuit of net energy gain using non-radioactive fuels, and earlier this year we became the first private fusion company in the world to demonstrate a material number of fusion reactions in a laser experiment.
“A huge congratulations to the team at the National Ignition Facility. This result will put a rocket under a new industry of high-power lasers, and inspire billions to be invested in laser fusion energy. The goal with our new coalition is to help direct this investment into partnerships and companies that can make Australia a global leader in this new advanced manufacturing industry, and fusion energy generation at large.”
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The NIF Target Bay. NIF’s 192 laser beams converge at the center of this giant sphere to make the tiny hydrogen fuel pellet implode. Credit: Damien Jemison