Thursday, June 13, 2024

US achieves nuclear fusion breakthrough, boosts clean energy hopes

The Department of Energy is planning an announcement Tuesday about a “major scientific breakthrough” at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, one of several sites worldwide where researchers have been trying to develop the possibility of harnessing energy from nuclear fusion.

It’s a technology that has the potential to one day accelerate the planet’s shift away from fossil fuels, which are the major contributors to climate change. The technology has long struggled with daunting challenges.Here’s a look at exactly what nuclear fusion is, and some of the difficulties in turning it into the cheap and carbon-free energy source that scientists believe it can be.

WHAT IS NUCLEAR FUSION?

The nuclear fusion reactions happen when two light nuclei merge to form a single heavier nucleus. Because the total mass of that single nucleus is less than the mass of the two original nuclei, the leftover mass is energy that is released in the process, according to the Department of Energy.

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