Fusion reactors: USA achieve breakthrough in fusion technology - for the first time more energy was generated than consumed

US scientists have made a breakthrough in fusion technology.

Fusion reactors: USA achieve breakthrough in fusion technology - for the first time more energy was generated than consumed

US scientists have made a breakthrough in fusion technology. For the first time, they started a "real" fusion reactor in the laboratory, i.e. a system that generates more electricity than it needs to operate itself. The previous devices of fusion technology were colloquially called reactors, but strictly speaking they were huge electricity consumers and not energy producers.

What is fusion engineering? Fusion reactors are part of nuclear technology and yet they work in a completely different way than the reactors built to date, which rely on fuel rods with uranium. The energy of the sun is unleashed in a fusion reactor. Under certain conditions - very high heat and very high pressure - two hydrogen atoms fuse to form a helium atom. During this process, energy is released. If the process can be controlled, such reactors could supply an infinite amount of energy without any impact on the climate. Measured by the requirements of the reactors, hydrogen is available in infinite quantities. In addition, the problem of radiological contamination does not exist to the same extent as with reactors that work with uranium. Another plus: There can be no accident like a meltdown. Fusion only occurs under certain conditions, which have to be produced at great expense. In the event of a breakdown, the artificial "sun zone" collapses and the merging stops.

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California uses a process called inertial confinement fusion. It differs fundamentally from the large fusion reactors such as ITER in France or the large-scale plants in China and Korea. In these tokamak reactors, one tries to create a continuous merging like in the sun in a donut-shaped ring. The basic principle of tokamaks was conceived by Soviet scientists in the early 1950s. But as ingenious as their vision was, it turned out that the way there was extremely rocky in practice and only now, after 70 years, is there a chance that these reactors can work permanently.

The NIF Target Bay in Livermore is based on a different idea, instead of a shining sun, an explosion is initiated like a mini hydrogen bomb. To do this, the beams from 192 lasers hit tiny hydrogen fuel pellets. This breakthrough did not come from one of the numerous start-ups in the field, it happened in a state-owned facility. Success is also a step joke of history. The breakthrough was not achieved in the civilian research facilities, which cost billions, the National Ignition Facility is dirt cheap compared to ITER at a cost of 3.5 billion dollars. And it was built primarily to test nuclear weapons. The current fusion plant is a kind of follow-up use.

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