At the US National Ignition Facility, researchers have succeeded in producing “burning plasma” for the first time. This is an important step towards a fusion reaction that can provide energy. The plasma was preserved for a short time with energy from the fusion reaction itself.
For years, researchers from various institutes have been working on a way to generate energy through nuclear fusion, in which lighter elements fuse into a heavier element, releasing a large amount of energy. At the National Ignition Facility, part of the American Research Institute Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, researchers have taken an important step: production Plasma burning. To sustain the fusion reaction without providing energy from the outside, the plasma must be able to sustain itself with the energy given off by the fusion reaction. This was achieved in the National Islamic Front.
Actual fusion experiments have already been carried out in November 2020 and February 2021, with one in 2021 yielding a record amount of power. nature spreads results now. During this fusion reaction, 1.3 megajoules of energy was released. To put that in perspective: 1.3 megajoules is about 0.36 kilowatt-hours and the average household burns about 10 kilowatt-hours per day. Moreover, the fusion reaction for NIF is far from being positive-energy, since a lot of energy is needed to start the reaction. To this end, the lab uses 192 lasers that press a small grain of deuterium and tritium until it reaches a temperature and pressure that allows for fusion. The laser consumed approximately 1.9 megajoules of energy for the test.
The research at LLNL is not aimed directly at developing a nuclear fusion-based power plant, but instead to gain insight into the processes that occur during or shortly before fusion. Nuclear fusion is being investigated in many research centers, where scientists are also trying to develop fusion reactors for power plants. One of the most famous research institutes for the latter is ITER, in the south of France.