Nuclear Fusion Milestone

Scientists Reach Milestone In Nuclear Fusion Experiment.

According to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), AFP (1/29) reports, “US scientists have produced a laser shot with an unprecedented energy level that could be a key step towards nuclear fusion.” In a statement, the NNSA said that “researchers for the first time delivered a megajoule of energy to a target by focusing 192 laser beams at the same time at a temperature of 111 million Celsius (200 million Fahrenheit).” NNSA administrator Thomas D’Agostino said, “Breaking the megajoule barrier brings us one step closer to fusion ignition,” adding, “This milestone is an example of how our nation’s investment in nuclear security is producing benefits in other areas, from advances in energy technology to a better understanding of the universe.”

In a report that only refers to the NNSA’s funding of the project, the San Francisco Chronicle (1/29, Perlman) reports that scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility said that their work “marked the most important advance yet in more than 10 years of work at the $3.5 billion facility.” In the coming months, “the team will start a new round of experiments seeking finally to achieve what they call ‘ignition’ — a true thermonuclear reaction inside the laboratory’s tiny targets.” L. Jeffrey Atherton, one of the lead physicists on the project, said, “We’re confident of our ability to start seeking ignition this summer.” Atherton added, “And we’re optimistic that at some point soon we’ll achieve it.”

The above reposted from the January 29, 2010 issue of ASEE’s First Bell.

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January 2010

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