Potential Breakthrough in Fusion Research - Expert: Solve several problems before building a power plant

According to a media report, researchers in the United States have made great progress in researching nuclear fusion as an energy source in the future. Accordingly, for the first time more energy can be released than is required to power the experiment. Can power plants run so quickly?

Could be a milestone in energy production: The US Department of Energy wants to announce a breakthrough in nuclear fusion research on Tuesday. And so, for the first time, researchers have succeeded in creating a controlled fusion reaction that produces a net energy gain like this “Financial Times” mentioned. This means that more energy was obtained from the reaction than was put into it. This is the basic requirement for a usable power source.

If carbon dioxide-free nuclear fusion can be used to generate energy, this would be an opportunity to replace fossil and climate-damaging energy sources such as oil, coal, and gas. And unlike nuclear fission, which has been used for decades to generate energy in nuclear power plants, there is no long-lived radioactive waste. In addition, very little fuel is needed – one gram of hydrogen can provide as much energy as 11 tons of coal.

Researchers have been trying to use nuclear fusion as an energy source since the 1950s. However, despite extensive efforts, this has yet to be achieved. “For most of us, it was just a matter of time,” said a senior fusion scientist familiar with the work at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, where the discovery was made. “Washington Post”.

At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, researchers are working with what’s called inertial fusion. A hydrogen-filled capsule is launched with the world’s largest laser. According to the Financial Times, in the past two weeks it was possible to generate more energy than is required to power the plant: The fusion reaction at the plant produced about 2.5 megajoules of energy, about 120 percent of what corresponds to the 2.1 megajoules of energy in the laser, People familiar with the results said.

She added that US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm wanted to comment on a “major scientific breakthrough” on Tuesday. The California lab confirmed a recent successful trial. “However, the exact yield is still being determined and we cannot confirm that it is above the threshold at this time,” she said. Results will still be evaluated.

Power plant within reach?

Prof. Dr. said. Sibel G√ľnther, Scientific Director of the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP), in first reaction to a request from ntv.de. “For the first time, more energy has been released by fusion reactions than by irradiated lasers.” However, the efficiency of the laser in converting electrical energy into laser energy was not taken into account when calculating the power gain.

Does this mean that the dream of establishing a power plant is within reach? Professor Guenther explains that the laser fusion tested in California is primarily about the ‘ignition’ of the pellets. However, this is difficult to do with direct laser firing. “That’s why NIF uses what’s called a cavity in which it first shoots a laser at the wall and generates X-rays there, which is very homogeneous.” Homogeneous irradiation of the pellets is critical, otherwise instabilities occur that do not allow the high densities and temperatures required for fusion energy utilization to be achieved.

However, the technology used in California would likely be very inefficient for a power plant because the fuel would have to be irradiated directly. “In addition, you would have to ignite such pellets at least ten times per second in a power plant. These and many other technological questions still have to be clarified before one can consider building a power plant.”


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