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Fusion Energy Breakthrough Explained by Dr. Marvin “Marv” Adams

In this video, Dr. Marvin “Marv” Adams, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs, explains the Fusion Energy breakthrough announced in Dec. 2022.

“Big important accomplishments often take longer and require more effort than originally thought and that these accomplishments are often more than worth that time and effort that they took”- Dr. Marvin Marv

 

The team at Lawrence Livermore National Lab National ignition facility made headlines this week with a breakthrough in Fusion Energy production. In this video, Dr. Marvin “Marv” Adams explains how the experiment produced more energy than the energy that took to ignite it.

“There’s a tiny cylinder here at the end of this, that you probably can’t see. It’s about this tall and this wide inside that was a small spherical capsule about half the diameter of a BB. 192 laser beams entered from the two ends of the cylinder and struck the inner wall. They didn’t strike the capsule they struck the inner wall of this cylinder and deposited energy and that happened in less time than it takes light to move 10 feet so it’s kind of fast.

X-rays from the wall impinged on the spherical capsule. Fusion fuel in the capsule got squeezed Fusion reactions started.

This had all happened before a hundred times, but last week for the first time they designed this experiment so that the fusion fuel stayed hot enough dense enough and round enough for long enough that it ignited and it produced more energies than the lasers had deposited about 2 Megajoules in, about 3 Megajoules out.

A gain of 1.5 the energy production took less time than it takes light to travel one inch kind of fast so this is pretty cool

Fusion is an essential process in modern nuclear weapons and fusion also has the potential for abundant clean energy. As you have heard and we’ll hear more the breakthrough at NIF does have ramifications for clean energy more immediately this achievement will advance our national security in at least three ways: 1- first it will lead to laboratory experiments that help NNSA defense programs continue to maintain confidence in our deterrent without nuclear explosive testing, 2- Second it underpins the credibility of our deterrent by demonstrating World leading expertise in weapons relevant technologies that is we know what we’re doing, 3- Third continuing to assure our allies that we know what we’re doing and continuing to avoid testing will advance our non-proliferation goals.

Also increasing our national security the achievement we celebrate today illustrates that big important accomplishments often take longer and require more effort than originally thought and that these accomplishments are often more than worth that time and effort that they took.”

What’s Energy Fusion?

Fusion energy science is a multi-disciplinary field focused on the science needed to develop an energy source based on a controlled thermonuclear fusion reaction. Fusion occurs when two nuclei combine to form a new nucleus. This process occurs in our Sun and other stars. Creating conditions for fusion on Earth involves generating and sustaining a plasma. Plasmas are gases that are so hot that electrons are freed from atomic nuclei. Researchers use electric and magnetic fields to control the resulting collection of ions and electrons because they have electrical charges. At sufficiently high temperatures, ions can overcome repulsive electrostatic forces and fuse together. This process—fusion—releases energy.

How is Fusion Energy produced?

Nuclear Fusion reactions power the Sun and other stars. In a fusion reaction, two light nuclei merge to form a single heavier nucleus. The process releases energy because the total mass of the resulting single nucleus is less than the mass of the two original nuclei. The leftover mass becomes energy. Einstein’s equation (E=mc2), which says in part that mass and energy can be converted into each other, explains why this process occurs. If scientists develop a way to harness energy from fusion in machines on Earth, it could be an important method of energy production.

Fusion can involve many different elements in the periodic table. However, researchers working on fusion energy applications are especially interested in the deuterium-tritium (DT) fusion reaction. DT fusion produces a neutron and a helium nucleus. In the process, it also releases much more energy than most fusion reactions. In a potential future fusion power plant such as a tokamak or stellarator, neutrons from DT reactions would generate power for our use. Researchers focus on DT reactions both because they produce large amounts of energy and they occur at lower temperatures than other elements.

What are the benefits of Fusion Energy?

The benefits of fusion power make it an extremely attractive option:

No carbon emissions. The only by-products of fusion reactions are small amounts of helium, an inert gas which can be safely released without harming the environment. Abundant fuels. Energy efficiency.

What are the challenges of Fusion Energy?

Two such obstacles to any practical application of fusion power are the magnitude of the plant capital cost and the limited lifetime of the reactor vessel. Among the factors contributing to the high initial cost is the constraint heat removal places on reactor size.

Photos from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory – Fusion Energy Production


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