(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have been able to run a fusion reaction with slightly less energy than needed for a self-sustaining process.
A team of more than 100 scientists has published the results of four experiments in which the burning state of the plasma was achieved. Together with the results of experiments conducted in August 2021, according to physicists, this allows us to approach a new milestone: when fusion fuel can continue to “burn” and create more energy than it consumes to initiate a reaction.
Researchers around the world have been working on fusion technology for decades, trying different approaches. Thirty-five countries are collaborating on a project in southern France called ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor), which uses huge magnets to manipulate superheated plasma. It is expected to start operating in 2026.
In a project by US scientists, 192 lasers are used to initiate a thermonuclear reaction in a plasma. They heat matter to about 100 million degrees, creating a pressure in the reactor chamber that is about 50% greater than inside the Sun. Scientists managed to create a burning plasma and maintain the substance in this state for only a trillionth of a second, but this was enough to consider the experiment a success.
In 2020, scientists managed to generate about 0.17 megajoules of energy, but it took 1.9 MJ to initiate the process. In experiments conducted in August 2021, after the installation was upgraded, physicists were able to generate already 1.3 MJ, which brings us very close to a self-sustaining reaction.
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