California research lab makes most impressive nuclear discovery of century


U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm announced the recent scientific breakthrough in nuclear fusion at a Department of Energy press conference. (Youtube/U.S. Department of Energy)

For decades a future of clean, zero-carbon emission energy has always seemed far from reality. However, with a recent demonstration of nuclear fusion in a California ignition research lab, clean energy and many more great scientific feats lie even closer in the near future. 

One early morning on December 5, 2022, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California ran a laser fusion experiment where 192 laser beams blasted a small cylinder containing a pellet of diamond-encased hydrogen. In a blink, lasting less than 100 trillionths of a second, 3.15 megajoules of energy output was produced. The reaction was powered by 2.05 megajoules of laser energy meaning 1.5 mJ of energy gain was produced from the reaction. 

Being able to produce excess energy from nuclear fusion is the same type of reaction the sun uses to produce its solar energy which warms and sustains life on our Earth. Fundamentally, these Californian scientists were the first in the world to harness the power of the sun. Their progress enables future research to extend to new gateways of nuclear science and modern nuclear technology. 

Statistics from Our World in Data report that as little as 0.003% of the greenhouse gas emissions that come from burning fossil fuels are produced in the life cycle of a nuclear power plant. This proves just how clean nuclear energy is and shows its potential in pushing America even closer to a clean energy future. 

This breakthrough in nuclear fusion energy greatly advances research and development of nuclear weapons and will strengthen national security as well. 

A few days after the fusion breakthrough the Department of Energy held a press conference to announce the amazing discovery. 

At this conference, NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration) Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Dr. Marvin Adams says, “this will lead to laboratory experiments that help NNSA defense programs continue to maintain confidence in our deterrent without nuclear explosive testing”.

NNSA administrator Jill Hruby adds, “we understand our nuclear weapons better than we did when we were testing. Unlocking ignition at [LLNL] will allow us to probe at the extreme conditions found at the center of nuclear explosions”. 

The recent Inflation Reduction Act signed in by the Biden Administration that extends billions of dollars to incentivize industries and utilities towards cleaner and nuclear energy is also greatly supportive and committed to the nuclear fusion breakthrough. 

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm explains, “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to supporting our world-class scientists… whose work will help us solve humanity’s most complex and pressing problems, like providing clean power to combat climate change and maintaining a nuclear deterrent without nuclear testing”.

With this breakthrough, America is put at the very front on the world stage leading a nuclear energy revolution. 

Granholm concludes, “This is what it looks like for America to lead… and we are just getting started”. 

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