Source: CNBC | Catherine Clifford@IN/CATCLIFFORD/@CATCLIFFORD | August 17, 2021

The National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif. The blue sphere in the center is the Target Chamber where the fusion reactions occur.

The National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif. The blue sphere in the center is the Target Chamber where the fusion reactions occur. Photo courtesy Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced a key achievement in fusion research on Tuesday. Fusion, the lesser known and opposite reaction to nuclear fission, is when two atoms slam together to form a heavier atom and release energy. It is the way the sun makes energy.

“Our result is a significant step forward in understanding what is required for it to work. To me, this is a Wright Brothers moment,” Omar A. Hurricane, Chief Scientist for the Inertial Confinement Fusion Program at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, told CNBC.

“It’s not practical, but we got off the ground for a moment,” Hurricane said.

The Livermore, Calif.-based lab announced on Tuesday it had, back on Aug. 8, been able to produce 1.3 megajoules of energy at its National Ignition Facility, albeit very briefly.

At the National Ignition Facility, which is the size of three football fields, super powerful laser beams recreate the temperatures and pressures similar to what exists in the cores of stars, giant planets and inside exploding nuclear weapons, a spokesperson tells CNBC.

On Aug. 8, a laser light was focused onto a target the size of a BB which resulted in “a hot-spot the diameter of a human hair, generating more than 10 quadrillion watts of fusion power for 100 trillionths of a second,” the written statement says.

What’s key is that the results make “a significant step toward ignition,” said a statement from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

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