amounts of public and private funds have been funneled into the fusion race worldwide, with the aim of ultimately manufacturing fusion machinery that could bring electricity to the grid with no carbon footprint, no radioactive waste and far fewer resources than it takes to harness solar and wind power. Beyond the climate benefits, promoters say it could help bring cheap electricity to impoverished parts of the world.
“To most of us, this was only a matter of time,” said a senior fusion scientist familiar with the work of the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, where the discovery was made.
The development was first reported by the Financial Times on Sunday. It was confirmed by two people familiar with the research, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid getting ahead of the official announcement. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was slated to make the announcement Tuesday at a media event billed as the unveiling of “a major scientific breakthrough.”
The science of nuclear fusion relies on smashing two atoms together at incredibly high speeds and transforming the energy from that reaction into electricity that can power homes and offices without emitting carbon into the air or dumping radioactive waste into the environment.