Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California recently had a breakthrough with nuclear fusion, sparking excitement in many. On December 5th of 2022, a nuclear fusion reaction was produced, which, for the first time, crossed the threshold and achieved ignition. In other words, more energy was produced than initially consumed.
Nuclear fusion is hoped to be implemented in mass in the future to provide an eco-friendly energy source, free of greenhouse gasses.
The energy is also planned to be used to aid in space exploration. The fusion energy will lessen the time needed for travel between planets, thus aiding in our ability to send humans beyond the moon and through the solar system. It will also allow for a quicker creation of a mining industry set on the moon and reduce the threat of climate change.
Even with the excitement of the success, several people question and criticize fusion energy, believing we are putting too much attention into its development. A lot of effort has been put into the development and ongoing research to get the fusion energy to this point, but there is still more to be done to sustain it long enough for commercial use.
Dr. Mark Diesendorf, of the University of New South Wales, shares that “To go from break-even, where energy output is greater than total energy input, to a commercial nuclear fusion reactor could take at least 25 years. By then, the whole world could be powered by safe and clean renewable energy, primarily solar and wind,” as well as, “The claim by the researchers that nuclear fusion is safe and clean is incorrect. Laser fusion, particularly as a component of a fission-fusion hybrid reactor, can produce neutrons that can be used to produce [three] nuclear explosives.”
A citizen of Bristol, Dick Willis, similarly states, “Yes, it’s a fantastic achievement for those scientists and engineers who have worked to achieve this proof of concept; well done them. But it will make not one jot of a positive difference to the challenges my children and grandchildren will face as a result of the climate crisis.”
Even if the effects of fusion energy are not seen for some time, they are quite promising in helping us in the future.