Recent announcement on the development of nuclear fusion

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Scientists at a federal nuclear weapons facility have made a potentially significant advance in fusion research that could lead to a source of bountiful energy in the future, according to a government official. The advance is expected to be announced Tuesday by the Department of Energy, which said a major scientific breakthrough was made at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

Such a development would improve the ability of the United States to maintain its nuclear weapons without nuclear testing and could set the stage for future progress that could one day lead to the use of laser fusion as an energy source.

Johann Rafelski, Ph.D and Professor of Physics of the University of Arizona joined us to discuss more.

What exactly was announced?

“It’s a great achievement for fusion research. You should not believe that we will have a reactor with nuclear fusion tomorrow, but from the perspective of fusion research, and fusion defense research, it’s a fantastic achievement,” said Rafelski.

He further explained that there is more energy coming out from making it than there is from extracting it. “There’s only 1/30th of energy lights the nuclear fire, like a match. For people who do defense work, it’s fantastic,” explained Rafelski.

Can this lead to an infinite source of clean energy?

“Yes, absolutely. We have very vast oceans with lots of deuterium, and if we master the fast step with deuterium, sooner or later we will have mastered the very cheap fuel, fuel which floats in water,” said Rafelski.

He goes on to say that this type of energy can be found when we drink water, which further proves that it takes less energy to produce.

“You have to look at is as a stepping stone. You should not expect that tomorrow we will have a fusion reactor in our pocket. This is a very long path,” said Refelski.

Johann Rafelski, Ph.D and Professor of Physics of the University of Arizona

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