Fusion Power a Step Closer After Giant Laser Blast
Nuclear fusion plant possible within a decade, physicist says.
The same process that powers our sun and other stars, nuclear fusion has the potential to be an efficient, carbon-free energy source—with none of the radioactive waste associated with the nuclear fission method used in current nuclear plants.
(See "Radioactive Rabbit Droppings Help Spur Nuclear Cleanup.")
Thanks to the new achievement, a prototype nuclear fusion power plant could be operating within a decade, speculated study leader Siegfried Glenzer, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.
Glenzer and colleagues used the world's largest laser array—the Livermore lab's National Ignition Facility—to heat a BB-size fuel pellet to millions of degrees Fahrenheit.
"These lasers are pulsed, and for a very short amount of time"—one ten-billionth of a second—"the power they produce is