BBC looks ahead to a brighter future… at least as far as our energy supply is concerned. Fusion reactors have gotten one small step closer, using lasers that zap hydrogen into heavier elements:
Now, a breakthrough by scientists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) could boost hopes of scaling up fusion.
NIF, based at Livermore in California, uses 192 beams from the world’s most powerful laser to heat and compress a small pellet of hydrogen fuel to the point where nuclear fusion reactions take place.
The BBC understands that during an experiment in late September, the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel – the first time this had been achieved at any fusion facility in the world.
The next step? A self-sustaining reaction. Zap the laser, and it keeps on going….