A group of U.S. scientists say they have repeated their landmark energy feat — a nuclear fusion reaction that produces more energy than is put into it. But this time, they say the experiment produced an even higher energy yield than one in December that got international attention for making a major step forward toward the long elusive goal of producing energy through fusion.
“We have continued to perform experiments to study this exciting new scientific regime. In an experiment conducted on July 30, we repeated ignition at (the National Ignition Facility),” Paul Rhien, a spokesman for the federal laboratory, said in a emailed statement. “Analysis of those results is underway, but we can confirm the experiment produced a higher yield than the December test.”
Rhien said the lab “won’t be discussing further details” of the July experiment until after more analysis. But the team plans to “share the results at scientific conferences and peer-reviewed publications as part of our normal process for communicating scientific results.”
Researchers can only create a fusion reaction about once a day because they have to let the lasers cool and replace the fuel target. But a commercially viable fusion plant would need to be able to do it several times per second, Dennis Whyte, director of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center at MIT, previously told The Washington Post.
“Once you’ve got scientific viability,” he said, “you’ve got to figure out engineering viability.”