Nuclear Fusion Resource Page
For many decades, nuclear fusion has been a holy grail energy concept, promising affordable and clean power that doesn’t produce the same intensely radioactive and long-lived nuclear waste that nuclear fission generates. Nuclear fusion experiments have also been of great interest to weapons developers and the military. Driven by defense and energy goals, the US has spent over 70 years and tens of billions of dollars funding research and development into nuclear fusion. Despite this immense research effort, the concept has never reached beyond the theoretical.
This page contains news, resources, and information about nuclear fusion.
NIRS Statement on 12/13/22 DOE Nuclear Fusion Announcement
Today, the US Department of Energy announced what scientists consider a major breakthrough in nuclear fusion research. In the DOE’s press release, they celebrate “a major scientific breakthrough decades in the making that will pave the way for advancements in national defense and the future of clean power.” They go on to explain that “On December 5, a team at LLNL’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) conducted the first controlled fusion experiment in history to reach this milestone, also known as scientific energy breakeven, meaning it produced more energy from fusion than the laser energy used to drive it.”
However exciting these laboratory experiments might be to nuclear scientists, nuclear fusion remains a long way from becoming a part of the world’s clean energy portfolio. Read more…
More on nuclear fusion from the experts
- Arjun Makhijani, President, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research: Reflections on the thermonuclear ignition at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory
- M.V. Ramana, Professor and Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (SPPGA), University of British Columbia: Clean Energy or Weapons? What the ‘Breakthrough’ in Nuclear Fusion Really Means
- John Mecklin, Editor in Chief, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: The Energy Department’s fusion breakthrough: It’s not really about generating electricity
- US scientists claim fusion “breakthrough”, but it’s still early days
- UK expert reactions to reports of advance in nuclear fusion from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
- Nature.com: Nuclear-fusion lab achieves ‘ignition’: what does it mean?
- NY Times: Can Fusion Solve the Climate Crisis?: Scientists made a huge breakthrough on the road to emissions-free power. Here’s what that means, and doesn’t mean. (Article available here)
Basic Data from NIF Fusion Experiment
Laser Energy input = 2.05 mega-joules (MJ)
Heat Energy yield = 3.15 MJ
Electricity consumed by lasers = 322 MJ
Analysis and Performance Requirements
Net Energy yield = +1.1 MJ (+54%)
Total Energy yield (heat yield vs. electricity consumed) = -321 MJ (-29,200%)