The ‘Holy Grail’ for scientist has been the search for ‘fusion’ reactor and the 2022 big news is that finally a breakthrough by some brainiacs in California….
But is it all that and a bag of chips?
There was great hoopla—largely unquestioned by media—with the announcement this week by the U.S. Department of Energy of a “major scientific breakthrough” in the development of fusion energy.
“This is a landmark achievement,” declared Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. Her department’s press release said the experiment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California “produced more energy from fusion than the laser energy used to drive it” and will “provide invaluable insights into the prospects of clean fusion energy.”
“Nuclear fusion technology has been around since the creation of the hydrogen bomb,” noted a CBS News article covering the announcement. “Nuclear fusion has been considered the holy grail of energy creation.” And “now fusion’s moment appears to be finally here,” said the CBS piece.
But, as Dr. Daniel Jassby, for 25 years principal research physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab working on fusion energy research and development, concluded in a 2017 article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, fusion power “is something to be shunned.”
Some are saying do not believe the hype.
In a dramatic scientific and engineering breakthrough, researchers at the Bay Area’s Lawrence Livermore National Lab recently achieved the long-sought goal of generating a nuclear fusion reaction that produced more energy than was directly injected into a tiny reactor vessel. By the very next day, pundits well across the political spectrum were touting that breakthrough as a harbinger of a new era in energy production, suggesting that a future of limitless, low-impact fusion energy was perhaps a few decades away. In reality, however, commercially viable nuclear fusion is only infinitesimally closer than it was back in the 1980s when a contained fusion reaction – i.e. not occurring in the sun or from a bomb – was first achieved.
While most honest writers have at least acknowledged the obstacles to commercially-scaled fusion, they typically still underestimate them – as much so today as back in the 1980s. We are told that a fusion reaction would have to occur “many times a second” to produce usable amounts of energy. But the blast of energy from the LLNL fusion reactor actually only lasted one tenth of a nanosecond – that’s a ten-billionth of a second. Apparently other fusion reactions (with a net energy loss) have operated for a few nanoseconds, but reproducing this reaction over a billion times every second is far beyond what researchers are even contemplating.
So my question is….was this the ‘big’ story that it was hyped up to be?
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