Allegedly, Lawrence Livermore Lab has cracked the code for nuclear fusion, per the Axios morning email thingie:
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is expected to announce a major step forward in fusion energy tomorrow.
- Why it matters: Decades of effort have gone into fusion energy, which promises almost limitless carbon-free power — without the dangerous waste from traditional fission reactors, Axios’ Ben Geman reports.
The breakthrough came in the past two weeks at the National Ignition Facility of the federal Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, the Financial Times scooped (subscription).
- Granholm will announce scientists for the first time have produced “a fusion reaction that creates a net energy gain — a major milestone in the decades-long, multibillion-dollar quest to develop a technology that provides unlimited, cheap, clean power,” The Washington Post adds.
🥊 Reality check: Progress in showing conceptual viability would be just one stop on the long scientific, technical and financial road to commercializing this long-elusive holy grail.
🔮 What’s next: Granholm’s announcement tomorrow is billed as a “major scientific breakthrough.
Before we pop the champagne, The WaPo gives us a cold shower:
Creating the net energy gain required engagement of one of the largest lasers in the world, and the resources needed to recreate the reaction on the scale required to make fusion practical for energy production are immense. More importantly, engineers have yet to develop machinery capable of affordably turning that reaction into electricity that can be practically deployed to the power grid.
Building devices that are large enough to create fusion power at scale, scientists say, would require materials that are extraordinarily difficult to produce. At the same time, the reaction creates neutrons that put a tremendous amount of stress on the equipment creating it, such that it can get destroyed in the process.
And then there is the question of whether the technology could be perfected in time to make a dent in climate change.
I’m a product of my times, and I wanna Star Trek-style dilithium crystal, but this is still a big deal. I’m not really keen on anything nuclear (again a product of my times), there is always a cost when you dance with the debbil.