It is no secret that the world has for the past few years been collectively focusing on ways to generate clean energy. By clean energy we mean energy generation that does not have a negative impact on the environment, namely pollution.
This has become increasingly important during the past period in particular where a lot of focus and attention has been directed towards climate change and the severe repercussions it is having (and will continue to have) on the planet should we not take immediate global corrective actions.
Thankfully, the world has taken strides in clean energy technology and there has been accelerated progress in several types of clean energy such as Solar, wind, Geothermal among many others.
However, our focus today shall be on clean energy generation via nuclear fusion.
So, what exactly is Nuclear Fusion?
So, the basic scientific definition would be two or more atomic nuclei fusing to form a single heavier nucleus. In the reaction, the matter is not conserved because part of the mass of the fusing nuclei is converted to energy (hence the energy generation).
The reaction does not involve any kind of combustion whatsoever and so, there are no air pollution concerns. Additionally, nuclear waste resulting from “Nuclear Fusion” is far less dangerous than that of its counterpart “Nuclear Fission” which makes waste disposal a far simpler and more environment friendly matter.
As such, Nuclear Fusion is a prime candidate for a definitive solution to the world’s energy problem and scientific research is ongoing in an attempt to have it as an alternative but reliable source of clean energy.
So, what’s New?
As per the latest (and by latest we mean mid-December 2022) from “Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory” in California, it is reported that scientists were able to generate more energy out of a nuclear fusion reaction than they put in to initiate it and in doing so, achieving a net energy gain. This means that it may be possible to develop a near-limitless source of clean energy.
This is a huge achievement in the energy generation scientific community due to the energy intensive conditions needed to trigger fusion reactions in the first place. Normally, the generated energy would be less than the energy required to trigger reaction thus resulting in an unsustainable process.
While achieving net energy gain is a huge step in the right direction, it was only one of many challenges that scientists are still dealing with, such as keeping the reaction ongoing for a sufficient amount of time and capturing the energy via affordable means. Yet, it is nevertheless still an important breakthrough.
When to expect?
Unfortunately, though, according to experts, Nuclear Fusion clean energy is still a long way from being in a state that is ready for mass and commercial usage. We are talking decades away and so; it is not a solution we can count on to tackle current pressing issues such as climate change. We are already witnessing climate change disasters globally, floods in Pakistan for instance and the recent droughts in China and Europe to name a few, so a shorter-term solution is sorely needed.
Experts warn that we simply do not have the luxury of time (certainly not decades) for addressing these issues along with carbon reductions.
So while research should extensively continue on Nuclear fusion clean energy to try to accelerate its journey to a state of readiness, the world scientific community continue to also allocate focus towards short term strategies that can contain the current damage our environment is suffering from.