Thursday, October 31, 2013

Nuclear fusion milestone passed at US lab






Target alignment at NIF 

Researchers at a US lab have passed a crucial milestone on the way to their ultimate goal of achieving self-sustaining nuclear fusion.

Harnessing fusion - the process that powers the Sun - could provide an unlimited and cheap source of energy.

But to be viable, fusion power plants would have to produce more energy than they consume, which has proven elusive.

Now, a breakthrough by scientists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) could boost hopes of scaling up fusion.

NIF, based at Livermore in California, uses 192 beams from the world's most powerful laser to heat and compress a small pellet of hydrogen fuel to the point where nuclear fusion reactions take place.

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