Nuclear Fusion Might Be Closer Than We Thought
It's not happening next week or even in the next few years. But recent experiments at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have brought fusion energy a lot closer to reality.
These experiments have produced more energy from fusion reactions than the amount of energy that was put into the fuel. Omar Hurricane, the physicist in charge of the experiments, said a lot more work still needs to be done before fusion becomes a viable energy source, but:
“Really for the first time anywhere, we’ve gotten more energy out of this fuel than was put into the fuel. And that’s quite unique. And that’s kind of a major turning point, in a lot of our minds.”
Unlike fossil fuels or nuclear fission — the process currently used in today's nuclear power plants — nuclear fusion will create an abundant energy source with no pollution, waste products or greenhouse gases. Describing the status of nuclear fusion research right now, Omar Hurricane compared it to “climbing half way up a mountain, but the top of the mountain is hidden in clouds. You can’t see it. You don’t have a map.”
He also said:
“I wish I could put a date on it. But it really is just research. And, you know, although we’re doing pretty good, we’d be lying to you if we told you a date.”
But we're halfway up the mountain.