Fusion news

Fingers crossed that this is not just another false start.

Hopefully no one named Pons or Fleischmann are anywhere near that project.


I saw that other researchers are having trouble reaching the same energy levels as the 2021 experiment. Yet, they’re all reaching higher energy levels than they had previously. So, looks like a benchmark at Lawerence Livermore Labs. That’s pretty good. Hopefully we get somewhere soon with this, instead of the eternal “it’s 30 years away” trope we’ve heard for so long.


That was a bad day…


Well it’s Newsweek, so outside confirmation is required.


I do recall reading it somewhere other than Newsweek.

Here’s one from just a quick search.


Another step closer. Sorry, article is paywalled—here’s an excerpt.

Nuclear-Fusion Energy Breakthrough Reported by Scientists at U.S. Lab

Experiment yields net-positive energy, a milestone in effort to develop nuclear fusion as a source of clean, virtually limitless power

The Energy Department said Tuesday that scientists at a federal research facility had achieved a breakthrough in research on nuclear fusion, long seen as a potential source of clean, virtually limitless energy and a key tool in efforts to curb climate change.

A controlled fusion reaction at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., produced more energy than it consumed, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said during a press conference from DOE headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Researchers at the lab’s multibillion-dollar National Ignition Facility have been studying nuclear fusion for more than a decade, using lasers to create conditions that cause hydrogen atoms to fuse and release vast amounts of energy. Since the facility began operations in 2009, the goal of a fusion reaction that produces a net gain of energy—a key step toward transforming fusion into a practical source of energy—had eluded scientists.

The broad appeal of nuclear fusion to scientists, investors and companies stems from its potential as an alternative to energy sources that involve the burning of fossil fuels and the release of greenhouse gases—a timely objective during “a looming energy and climate crisis,” according to Rafael Juárez Mañas, an engineering professor at the National Distance Education University (UNED) in Madrid who wasn’t involved in the recent experiment.

But commercial application of this technology likely remains years, if not decades, away, according to fusion researchers.

It is premature to talk about building fusion power plants, said Gianluca Sarri, a professor of physics at Queen’s University Belfast who wasn’t involved in the new research. “There are technical issues that need to be solved still before it becomes an energy source,” Dr. Sarri added.

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Mrc CCU and I were talking about this earlier. I said, now it’s time to scale it up, and it’s up the the engineers now. This view comes with the caveat, that the reporting is accurate.

If true, this is extremely interesting news. Although we may continue to be on the continuous “30 years from now” fusion will be viable.

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I read about this in the WaPo as well. The laser itself is a big as a football field apparently, and the engineering problems of how you harness the energy are immense. I will never see it in my lifetime, but maybe five generations from now?

By then everything we saw on The Jetsons will be reality.

There is a part of me that is excited, but the Debbie Downer in me is saying “We’ve all heard this duck fart underwater before.”

We know wind, solar, geothermal, and ocean/wave electricity are all commercially viable now, and building more of these generators shouldn’t be delayed. We should also be investing in improving the electrical grid to increase efficiency and reduce costs of service. Some may ask what that means…

It means get used to the idea that your rooftop is going to be a part of the national grid folks. It also means that going forward, we need to start rethinking how we build buildings to make them more efficient, too.


I was in Big Pharma research when this came out. Everyone was patting me on the back for being at such a prestigious school that had such great scientists.

That didn’t last long.

Well, at least I learned biochemistry from a Nobel Prize winning scientist at Utah, Mario Capecchi. I can rest on the one degree of separation


There was an article about the Lawrence Livermore reaction of '21 earlier this year. The notable / humorous part about the article I saw was they (apparently) didn’t document exactly how they set off the fusion reaction.

It conjured up visions of a PhD version of Brian Kelly’s infamous “You’ve got to be F-ing kidding me!” in his first year at Notre Dame just as NBC zoomed in on his face, right as he was reaming some defensive player for a mistake.

Wardrobe malfunctions, Brian Kelly dropping F-bombs on national TV, and nuclear physicists who forgot to write down their work in a nuclear experiment.

Americana, baby!


Just read an article in Nature about the NIF fusion reaction.

Just to quibble a bit, there is still a huge net loss of energy in the experiment. It took 322 megajoules to power the lasers. The lasers delivered 2.05 megajoules of energy at the target. The target released 3.15 megajoules of energy. So, while the released energy exceeded the delivered energy, it still took 322 megajoules to get to that point, so they still lost 319 or so megajoules of energy.

Technically yes, there is a net gain of energy, the delivered vs released energy. So the experiment is a success, a proof of concept so to speak. As Nature points out, the NIF fusion style (lasers vs ITER in being built in Europe) isn’t likely to be used for commercial fusion. It at least shows that fusion is possible, and now is mostly down to the engineers to make it work, somehow.

Side note, who knows how many obstacles there are to overcome? I haven’t a clue. Perhaps a new Nikola Tesla will come along and push the project/idea over the top.


@Carolina_Cycling_Ute You’re right, patience and realism are necessary; Here’s a bit from the Wall Street Journal saying just that:

The news Tuesday that U.S. scientists have performed the world’s first controlled nuclear fusion reaction that generates a net energy gain is a refutation of American declinism. But don’t believe the hype that a fossil-fuel free world is near if only the government spends more.

Scientists have spent decades studying how to replicate in labs the nuclear fusion reactions that power the sun and stars. The fission reactions that power today’s nuclear plants involve splitting atoms and result in radioactive waste. Fusion entails combining atoms and theoretically could provide abundant, clean energy with no hazardous waste.

Hydrogen, fusion’s input, is the most abundant element in the universe, and no country dominates its supply, unlike some minerals used in lithium-ion batteries and wind turbines. The reactions also don’t generate CO2. But a stumbling block has long been figuring out how to generate more energy from the fusion reactions than is used to ignite them.

In the experiment that resulted in Tuesday’s breakthrough, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory used 192 lasers to heat and compress hydrogen atoms at more than 180 million degrees Fahrenheit. The reaction released 3.15 megajoules of energy for every 2.05 megajoules of input—with some major caveats.

The lasers are less than 1% efficient and used about 300 megajoules. As Lawrence Livermore director Kim Budil put it: “300 megajoules at the wall [socket], two megajoules at the laser.” Generating electricity from fusion would require such reactions to be performed every second of the day, a vast increase in laser efficiency and reduction in their size…

What the experiment proved is that scientists can recreate the physical reactions in stars. But scaling the technology and making it commercially viable by most scientists’ accounts will likely take another few decades.

It’s also important to distinguish between basic and applied research. Government’s proper role is to fund basic research of the sort that produced Tuesday’s breakthrough and which businesses have little incentive to do. Private companies do a far better job of taking discoveries out of the lab to the market.

A bipartisan complaint is that the U.S. spends too little on research and development, which has the country trailing China. That’s not true. U.S. businesses in 2019 spent nearly eight times more on R&D than the federal government. The U.S. as a whole spent a third more as a share of GDP on R&D than China.

China spends more subsidizing politically favored companies, but its industrial policy has reduced productivity, as a new study in theNational Bureau of Economic Researchshows. The fusion breakthrough shows that America still leads the world in innovation, and that what the government does best is basic research, not picking winners and losers.

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I have little doubt that I will not live to see this as a practical energy generation tool, but that’s how development of something this complex goes.


I’ve heard it said that if we’re worried about CO2, we should be all in for orbital solar and nuclear.

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I think this is a great concept or idea. I think Nikola Tesla demonstrated that power can be transmitted wirelessly. Although I could remember that wrong.

That is one hell of a long extension cord. :stuck_out_tongue:


Yeah, well, after the Wright brothers started flying planes, lots of people thought manned flight was just a stunt that would never replace trains. So there!:wink: