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.

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12 Responses to Science!

  1. When I was a junior in High School I wrote my big term paper on the progress toward fusion energy. It was ’10-15 years from starting commercialization’

    This was 1974

    The experiment that produced the actual fusion reaction, also wrecked the test chamber and damaged the laser, so the whole apparatus needs two weeks to two months of repairs before they can try again.

    I man it is an important step…this is the first time this has been achieved, but this is at the stage of “A large mound of graphite blocks unde the stadium ay the University of Chicago”

    Without the impetus of the Manhattan Program….

    Liked by 2 people

  2. w3ski4me says:

    I can only think of the accidents with early nuclear tech. “What is that green glow, why are we all now dying?” and shake just a little at the idea of Fusion. Perhaps it would be better if we did wait a few years to understand it a bit more before we do our normal big oops. I just don’t want to see the hole and the body count when this one goes bleewie.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. MDavis says:

    We can already harvest fusion power. It’s pretty safe, too.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. skinnydennis says:

    Bet they haven’t talked to Doc Brown.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. gruaud says:

    The large size and complexity of the machinery required for ignition is typical of technological breakthroughs. Think of early computers, stereos, and telephones. The next phase will be miniaturization of the components and making it redundant/idiot-proof.

    This is a game-changer.

    Liked by 1 person

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