Wait, they got a positive Q value?
that in and of itself is HUGE, even if the net gain is small....however, one percent of how much juice NIF uses per shot is actually a decent chunk of kilowatts.
never heard of this alpha-capture method before, although its probably a technique specific to inertial confinement fusion, meaning it wont be useful for torroidal fusion or fusor designs or anything
13th February, 2014 @ 10:56 p.m. (California Time)
They achieved gain, but NOT "net" gain.
The target released more energy than was put into it by the lasers. It must be said that is an awesome achievement.
BUT, the energy that powered the lasers was greater than the energy they got out. So there was not an actual net gain. It took more energy, overall, to create the fusion than it released.
But this is a major milestone, no doubt about it.
14th February, 2014 @ 12:25 a.m. (California Time)
At the end of the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition programme, the cardinals are seen rushing to yet another opportunity to utter the immortal words: "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!" The closing credits roll while they are en route and the programme eventually comes to a close just as they arrive at their destination. The words "Oh **!" can be heard in the background.
Fusion energy production, be it hot, or even cold, reminds me of that sketch. If, or perhaps more optimistically, when, it arrives I think it will be too late. We desperately need a new supply of cheap, i.e. easy to extract, oil, not just electricity, and we need it yesterday. It is nice to know that milestones are being passed, albeit oh so slowly.
I just hope that when the technology arrives as a working process, exuding all shiny newness and capable of producing copious amounts of cheap energy, the scientists will not be heard repeating the "Oh **!" expression.
14th February, 2014 @ 1:46 a.m. (California Time)
There have been hundreds of experiments where fusion has been achieved in low temperatures (and small devices). And energy gain is about 300%. Some technologies are going to production lines.
14th February, 2014 @ 1:56 a.m. (California Time)
Sadly even if ignition is achieved and becomes practical, the average person will never see the benefit because it would mean the literal end to rationing energy by way of monetary payment. In other words, as long as there is a profit to be made, true advancedment will be stymied. The same can be applied to cancer cures, teleportation, advanced space travel, etc. Greed overcomes all.
14th February, 2014 @ 3:56 a.m. (California Time)
"as part of the US program to produce new warheads and to ensure that the existing stockpiles remain safe and reliable."
Sorry, had to LOL at the irony of this statement when I read it. Warheads safe? And reliable? Aren't those two goals in direct conflict with one another? ☺
14th February, 2014 @ 5:31 a.m. (California Time)
It took a facility bigger than a football field to confine alpha particles to a fusion pellet long enough to get past breakeven. Inertial confinement fusion is going to look like big dinosaur when commenting technology l;tike low energy nuclear fusion reaction reactors come on the scene.
Vulvox has an aneurtronic fusion reactor on the drawing board that will cost hundreds of times less than laser ICF reactors or the biggest dinosaur of them all- the ITER tokamak type reactors.
We also have a performance materials program for developing materials that can be used in clean aneutronic LENR reactors.
14th February, 2014 @ 8:42 a.m. (California Time)
From above: "[A star's] huge mass squashes the atoms together to form helium, releasing huge amounts of energy as the strong nuclear force that keeps them apart is overcome." No; and again, no. The stars mass provides a high density, where the high temperature will, occasionally, provoke a collision so direct and violent as to overcome the electric force ... or close enough for the strong nuclear force to come into play. The strong nuclear force is used not "overcome".
And PLEASE don't use the adverb "literally" to describe "harnessing". There are no horses in evidence.
14th February, 2014 @ 9:44 a.m. (California Time)
A welcome step forward. But there remains the frustration that commercialization always seems 25 in the future…
By contrast, a US conversion to renewable energy would cost an estimated $26b/yr versus $120b/yr for the hidden costs of fossil fuels in the US PLUS $271 billion/yr. projected damage by climate change impacts (Ackerman & Stanton, Tufts U, 2008); (US Acad. of Sciences, 2010).
NREL's Chuck Kutscher makes that case at the 1 hour mark in a Jan 26 2014 talk: Climate Change: The Latest Findings and What We Must Do.
14th February, 2014 @ 10:01 a.m. (California Time)
Our discovery of an inexhaustible, cheap, nonpolluting energy source will save humanity from itself but not all other life on this planet from humanity.
14th February, 2014 @ 11:04 a.m. (California Time)
In the 70's Kieve (Kip) Siegel sold all his companies and started KMS Fusion in Ann Arbor, MI. (Kieve Siegel founded Conductron as well as several other companies.)
He had a dream that relatively small Fusion powered generating stations would be scattered across the country providing power for each local area. He felt it would be safer to spread them out. I believe he was the one that came up with the glass bubbles that contained the Deuterium and or Tritium.
Unfortunately, Kip died long before his dream could come to fruition.
After his death I was looking for work and applied for a position at KMS. I had about 10 years of laser experience so I thought my chances were good. In fact it looked like I was going to get the job. The FBI was doing background checks for the security clearance and I was looking forward to joining the effort.
Since Kip wasn't there to pressure the powers that be in Washington the federal contract they were counting on never came through and I was not hired.
At that time KMS felt they were close to breakeven including the power into the laser. Their terminology was that they had neutron yield and that seemed to be significant. I didn't have any idea what it was about but they liked it.
I still wish things could have been different. It would have been exciting to have a hand in it. My experience in lasers began in 1961 when they were in their infancy and that was certainly exciting.
14th February, 2014 @ 11:45 a.m. (California Time)
I expect the nuclear industry to tout this as yet another BIG (sic) reason to pursue future nuclear R&D that just might have a potential commercial value to society.
If the USA military complex were really smart they would admit they are doing this R&D to further their ability to reduce the size (not the yield) of future nuclear weapons. Then all the others that seek to catch up with US, would also have to spend Billions on similar programs which would make any future discoveries probably happen sooner, while at the same time benefit the nuclear industry by keeping the Solar Industry from installing Solar since less Gov't. monies would be spent on Solar (of all flavors)!
If the US tax payers were really smart, they would just say N☢ to any more nuclear R&D and demand that our Gov't. spend the money they would have spent on nuclear R&D on installing as much new Solar it can ASAP. This National Solarization Program (NSP) would also generate a huge number of good paying new US jobs while also reducing our dependance on both foreign and domestic Oil and Gas supplies.
Sadly the decisions will be made by elected officials that will be receiving big Nuclear Paybacks* of some form or another so expect to see Congress do the right thing, at least as far as the nuclear industry is concerned...
Those that support nuclear power because nuclear power somehow supports them; no matter what the health implications or other "costs" are for others.
14th February, 2014 @ 11:53 a.m. (California Time)
replicate big time as time moves on in testing alone, awesome
14th February, 2014 @ 2:21 p.m. (California Time)
The initial premise, stated as: "A fusion reactor works by simulating the conditions inside the Sun…" is patently ridiculous! WE CAN'T SEE INSIDE THE SUN. We can merely speculate about the weak & strong forces inside the sun.
Other than that, good work. Ever notice how scientists are always surprised at new developments??? I wonder why?
14th February, 2014 @ 7:15 p.m. (California Time)
the industralized world that uses most of the energy should cooperatively build solar generating plants all over the world and share the energy with the tropical / desert countrys that would be the biggest contributors. Give all people in the world a certain amount of free energy / electricity and charge for extra used.
this would probably cost not much more than the 20 years of war against the middle east trying to steal the oil.
14th February, 2014 @ 11:04 p.m. (California Time)
Has anyone heard of Liquid Fluoride Thorium?
Endless power, proven process just needs to be refined.
USA isn't interested in developing the most promising tech.
Never mind they can buy it back from the Chinese in 15 years.
15th February, 2014 @ 1:31 a.m. (California Time)
At least 10 years ago, I remember proposing a toast at a dinner party 'to the end of poverty' having read that morning that a torus device, I think in New York, had for a brief time yielded a net gain in energy (the difficulty was keeping the plasma magnetically caged and away from the wall of the vessel).
I read nothing subsequently to undermine the assertion of that achievement so this may be a first for a laser system but perhaps not a 'first ever'.
16th February, 2014 @ 5:09 a.m. (California Time)
So, 50 years from now, 6 companies will have all the reactors and people will still pay though the nose. I'm still looking for an answer where any solution can cause a resurgence in expansion for humankind. This will be a good energy model going forward but has very little in the way of financial benefits for most of humanity,
The source may change, but the control of supply will remain the same.
16th February, 2014 @ 5:52 a.m. (California Time)
in answer to your question, Yes! What a pity we have not spent more time and energy on developing it. I suppose it is the perennial nuclear problem of vast hordes of grass coloured individuals gnashing their teeth and wailing "It's nuclear, it must be dangerous!" They have a lot to answer for.
16th February, 2014 @ 6:49 a.m. (California Time)
This is a great step forward for LLNL.
But, if you want to produce nuclear fusion on a commercial scale, we need to go back to the process that was recommended by the scientific community in the 1970's - with " NO show stoppers " !!
RF Accelerator Driven Heavy Ion Fusion
The scientists say it can be on line ... in production ... in ten years. This is the 'Silver Bullet' the administration is looking for to solve the energy, economic, environment and national security problems of today.
It seems nobody knows about the work that was done by DOD at ANL and shelved in the 70's ... it could be a BIG energy source that could be clean and safe. But who needed it in the 70's?
Check it out at www.fusionpowercorporation.com
16th February, 2014 @ 10:26 a.m. (California Time)
If this is really a good candidate for grid power, why is it 100% funded from the military budget even though it is running ten years behind? What they want is a fusion weapon without Plutonium. The same investment in renewables or conservation would have saved many lives.
17th February, 2014 @ 8:43 a.m. (California Time)
Excellent, I hope finally they'll allow the true potential of this wonder for mankind to be used for positive things. NOT just "National Security" and make rich families richer by controlling energy/prices for mankind.
This could allow us to expand and attain heights only dreamed of, as they've always been restricted by effective power systems/cells.
4th June, 2014 @ 3:22 p.m. (California Time)
A fusion experiment that has gain will be like the Wright flier. Once people saw that a working airplane could be built, they quickly made much better airplanes.
11th January, 2016 @ 11:27 a.m. (California Time)
Not mentioned is how many microseconds the fusion lasted. Or did they get to a few milliseconds...?
3rd February, 2016 @ 2:03 p.m. (California Time)