U.S. scientists achieve net energy gain in fusion reaction for second time

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U.S. government scientists have achieved net energy gain in a fusion reaction for the second time, a major breakthrough in the quest for clean, limitless energy.

The researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California repeated the feat on July 30, producing more energy from the reaction than was used to initiate it. This is the second time that net energy gain has been achieved in a fusion reaction, and it comes just eight months after the first time. Physicists have long sought to replicate the Sun’s fusion reaction for energy.

Fusion is the process that powers the sun and stars, and it is considered to be a clean and abundant source of energy. However, it has been difficult to achieve fusion reactions on Earth that produce more energy than they consume.

The scientists at Lawrence Livermore used a technique called inertial confinement fusion, which involves firing lasers at a tiny capsule of fuel. The lasers heat the fuel to extremely high temperatures, causing it to implode and fuse. Ordinarily, magnetic confinement uses big magnets to heat fuel, but Lawrence Livermore Lab’s inertial confinement employs a giant laser for fuel implosion.

The July 30 experiment produced an energy output of greater than 3.5 megajoules, which is roughly sufficient to power a household iron for an hour. This is a significant improvement over the first net energy gain experiment, which produced an energy output of 3.15 megajoules.

The sources for this piece include an article in ArsTechnica.

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