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October 2017
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California Lab Advances Nuclear Fusion – VNR

In early February of this year, researchers of the National Ignition Facility, or NIF at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have announced a milestone break-through in the search for clean and efficient energy. In a paper published in the scientific journal Nature, the scientists revealed that in a historical first, nuclear fusion achieved in their facility has yielded more energy than was initially put into the hydrogen fuel used.

Nuclear fusion is what powers the stars of the universe, including our own sun. It is a highly promising source of clean energy; fusion reactors would run on a common form of hydrogen found in seawater, would emit minimal nuclear waste and couldn’t have the kind of meltdown that can occur in a traditional nuclear-fission reactor. What makes it even more interesting is that nuclear fusion sustains itself once it reaches a critical point, called ignition, without needing additional energy.

The researchers of the NIF have now managed to create stable fusion that yielded more power than the fuel cell absorbed. However, the facility’s efficiency is not yet optimal, as the facility technically still uses 100 times more energy than it produces. Now, the focus for researchers lies on improving the efficiency of the fuel cell’s energy absorption and increasing the power and yield without compromising on the fusion’s stability.

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