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US researchers hope for breakthrough in nuclear fusion
Scientists at an American lab may have made an important breakthrough in nuclear fusion research. U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will announce “a significant scientific breakthrough” on Tuesday, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Scientists at the US federal agency Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have been researching nuclear fusion for years. (archive image)
Ahead of Sunday’s (local time) announcement, scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) had succeeded in using an experimental fusion reactor for the first time to generate more energy than was consumed during the process, several media previously reported.
A “net energy gain” of 120 percent was achieved, the British “Financial Times” reported on Sunday, citing three people involved in the research. The Washington Post reported on the alleged breakthrough and quoted a fusion scientist as saying: “For most of us, it’s only a matter of time.”
The US Department of Energy and the lab initially did not want to confirm the reports because “the analysis is still ongoing”. However, they announced the minister’s statement on Tuesday.
Alternative nuclear fusion
In nuclear fusion, nuclei are fused together at extreme temperatures. A huge amount of energy is released in the process. Conventional nuclear power plants generate energy through the fission of nuclear nuclei.
A significant amount of energy is required to bring about nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion, according to its proponents, could become an alternative to burning fossil fuels and the controversial nuclear fission. Although dozens of experimental reactors have been built since the 1950s, none have been able to produce more energy than the process requires. (SDA)
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