The US Department of Energy is set to announce a significant “scientific breakthrough” this week, which has fuelled speculations that California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has come up with the first net energy gain from a fusion reactor, Canada Today reported citing The Washington Post.
The milestone is a major step towards affordable clean energy which is also unlimited. While the Energy Department is yet to address it, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is slated to reveal a “major scientific breakthrough” about an experiment in the lab on Tuesday as per reports.
“Initial diagnostic data point to another successful experiment at the National Ignition Facility,” the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory said, according to The Financial Times. “However, the exact yield is still being determined and we cannot confirm at this time that it is above the threshold,” the lab added.
Are fusion reactions the ‘holy grail’ of clean energy?
It has taken decades for researchers to reach the possible milestone after attempting to copy the kind of fusion reaction that charges the Sun. However, since the 1950s, it has not been possible to create more energy that is being used in the process. Despite great potential, scientists are still far away from channeling fusion power to power grids.
“Fusion reactions don’t liberate carbon, produce no long-lived radioactive waste, and a small cup of the hydrogen fuel could theoretically power a home for hundreds of years,” said Rep. Don Beyer, who called fusion reactions the “holy grail” of clean energy earlier this year during the launch of the White House’s fusion energy strategy. “Fusion has the potential to lift more people out of poverty in the world than anything since fire,” he added.