FUSION ENERGY BREAKTHROUGH
14th December, 2022 Science and Technology
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- Scientists in the United States have, for the first time, achieved a net gain in energy from a nuclear fusion reaction, seen as a big step forward in the decades-old endeavour to master a technology that is considered the most dependable source of energy in future.
- Nuclear fusion is defined as the combining of several small nuclei into one large nucleus with the subsequent release of huge amounts of energy.
- The reaction happens when two light nuclei merge to form a single heavier nucleus. Because the total mass of that single nucleus is less than the mass of the two original nuclei, the leftover mass is energy that is released in the process.
- Nuclear fusion powers our sun and harnessing this fusion energy could provide an unlimited amount of renewable energy.
- In the case of the sun, its intense heat — millions of degrees Celsius — and the pressure exerted by its gravity allow atoms that would otherwise repel each other to fuse.
- Fusion reactions emit no carbon, produce no long-lived radioactive waste and a small cup of the hydrogen fuel could theoretically power a house for hundreds of years.
Net Energy Gain in Fusion Energy
- Physicists have since the 1950s sought to harness the fusion reaction that powers the sun, but no group had been able to produce more energy from the reaction than it consumes — a milestone known as net energy gain or target gain, which would help prove the process could provide a reliable, abundant alternative to fossil fuels and conventional nuclear energy.
- Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California for the first time produced more energy in a fusion reaction than was used to ignite it, something called net energy gain.
- The fusion reaction at the US government facility produced about 2.5 megajoules of energy, which was about 120 per cent of the 2.1 megajoules of energy in the lasers.
- The US breakthrough comes as the world wrestles with high energy prices and the need to rapidly move away from burning fossil fuels to stop average global temperatures reaching dangerous levels.
- The achievement will pave the way for advancements in national defense and the future of clean power.
Must Read: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/nuclear-fusion-and-fission#:~:text=Firstly%2C%20nuclear%20fusion%20requires%20less,to%20get%20%E2%80%93%20and%20highly%20expensive.