Nuclear fusion is a process that occurs when two atomic nuclei combine to form a heavier nucleus, releasing a great deal of energy. This same process is responsible for powering the sun. Achieving the high temperatures and pressures required to initiate fusion reactions in a laboratory is challenging, so scientists have not yet been able to create a fusion reaction that produces more energy than it consumes. Recently, researchers at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory have announced a breakthrough in the form of a net energy gain fusion process that produces 20% more energy than it consumes. If this process can be industrialized, it could lead to a revolution in the energy industry.
From Yahoo News:
The experiment took place in recent weeks at the government-funded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, where researchers used a process known as inertial confinement fusion, the Financial Times reports, citing three people with knowledge of the experiment's preliminary results.
The test involved bombarding a pellet of hydrogen plasma with the world's largest laser to trigger a nuclear fusion reaction, the same process which takes place in the sun.
Researchers were able to produce 2.5 megajoules of energy, 120 per cent of the 2.1 megajoules used to power the experiment.
The laboratory confirmed to the FT it had recently conducted a "successful" experiment at the National Ignition Facility, but declined to comment further, citing the preliminary nature of the data.