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Fusion shows a return

Efforts to develop fusion as a viable alternative energy source continue but progress has been slow. In the context of inertial confinement fusion, in which a fuel target is compressed and heated to initiate nuclear fusion, a key experimental goal is to reach a stage where the amount of energy deposited into the fuel during the compression/heating process is exceeded by the amount of energy generated by the induced fusion reactions. This threshold — the attainment of a 'fuel gain' that is greater than one — has now been reached at the National Ignition Facility in Livermore, California. They used 192 laser beams to heat and compress a fuel pellet to the point at which nuclear fusion reactions take place and obtained a yield 10 times greater than previously achieved. Further advances will be required, however, before the fusion energy yield exceeds the total energy required to compress the fuel pellet.

Nature 506, 7488 table of contents

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