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Fusion Energy News 2022

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This document provides current information about fusion energy. News stories are in chronological order below with source and date as the heading for each entry.

“We were able to reach pressures more than two times the center of the sun and about 150 million degrees [Celsius].” This is about 10 times hotter than the center of the sun. — Annie Kritcher, Principal Designer, 13 Dec 2022

About Fusion

“Fusion power is a proposed form of power generation that would generate electricity by using heat from nuclear fusion reactions. In a fusion process, two lighter atomic nuclei combine to form a heavier nucleus, while releasing energy. Devices designed to harness this energy are known as fusion reactors. Research into fusion reactors began in the 1940s, but as of 2022, only one design, at the US National Ignition Facility, has conclusively produced a positive fusion energy gain factor, i.e. more power output than input.” [Source: Wikipedia]

Nuclear Fission Concerns

Concerns about the waste and risks of nuclear fission power are driving the interest in Fusion. A lengthy PBS documentary from 13 Dec 2022 describes some recent disasters involving nuclear fission power facilities including Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex.


Below are recent news stories related to this topic. They are in chronological order with the most recent at the top. The source and date are used for each entry heading.

FRANCE 24 (14 Dec 2022)

“Nuclear Fusion: ‘This is an incredibly significant scientific achievement'” — Scientists announced that they have for the first time produced more energy in a fusion reaction than was used to ignite it — a major breakthrough in the decades-long quest to harness the process that powers the sun. US Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm hails this milestone as “one of the most impressive scientific feats of the 21st century.” For more on the future of nuclear fusion, FRANCE 24 is joined by Kristine Berzina, Managing Director at the German Marshall Fund. [Source]

Big Think (13 Dec 2022)

“There is no “breakthrough”: NIF fusion power still consumes 130 times more energy than it creates” — Big Think, by Tom Hartsfield, 13 Dec 2022. [Source]

  • Excerpt: “This week’s announcement is an increase in fusion energy output, relative to laser energy input, from 70% in 2021 to 154% in 2022. This incremental, possibly incidental, progress toward thermonuclear burn is not a breakthrough. The facility has, at last, achieved slightly more fusion output than laser input: ignition. On paper that is a major symbolic victory. In practice, it’s of little consequence. Here’s why. The laser energy delivered to the target was 2.05 MJ, and the fusion output was likely about 3.15 MJ. According to multiple sources on NIF’s website, the input energy to the laser system is somewhere between 384 and 400 MJ. Consuming 400 MJ and producing 3.15 MJ is a net energy loss greater than 99%. For every single unit of fusion energy it produces, NIF burns at minimum 130 units of energy. … To produce useful power, NIF would need to increase the fusion output of each experiment by at least 100,000%. That’s an enormous scientific challenge to resolve before commercial operation can even be considered.”

CBC (13 Dec 2022)

“U.S. announces milestone in fusion energy” — The U.S. government has announced that, for the first time, a nuclear fusion reaction in a laboratory has released more energy than was used to trigger it, a ‘major scientific breakthrough’ in the decades-long quest to harness fusion. [Source]

Deutsche Welle (13 Dec 2022)

“Breakthrough in nuclear fusion raises hopes for unlimited clean energy source” — The US Department of Energy announced a major breakthrough in nuclear fusion technology on Tuesday. Scientists at the California-based Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) successfully generated a “net energy gain” using nuclear fusion in a lab for the first time. “This is a landmark achievement for the researchers and staff at the National Ignition Facility who have dedicated their careers to seeing fusion ignition become a reality, and this milestone will undoubtedly spark even more discovery,” said US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. For decades, scientists have pumped more energy into experimental fusion reactors than the total new energy created in the process. This setback has made nuclear fission — not fusion — the default preference in the pursuit of limitless, zero-carbon power, despite its health and safety risks. On December 5, 2022, NIF scientists conducted the first controlled fusion experiment in history in which more energy was produced from fusion than the laser energy used to drive it. [Source]

FRANCE 24 (13 Dec 2022)

“US scientists announce fusion energy breakthrough” — Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced a “major scientific breakthrough” Tuesday in the decades-long quest to harness fusion, the energy that powers the sun and stars. The achievement will pave the way for advancements in national defense and the future of clean power, Granholm and other officials said. [Source]

NBC (13 Dec 2022)

“Fusion Energy Breakthrough Could Be An ‘Inflection Point’ For Clean Fuel Technology” — The Department of Energy is expected to announce a major development regarding fusion energy on Tuesday. Alex Gilbert, fellow at the Payne Institute, discusses the significance of this potential discovery. [Source]

NY Times (13 Dec 2022)

“Scientists Achieve Nuclear Fusion Energy Breakthrough in the US” — NY Times, 13 Dec 2022. [Source]

  • Excerpt: “Scientists studying fusion energy at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California announced on Tuesday that they had crossed a long-awaited milestone in reproducing the power of the sun in a laboratory. That sparked public excitement as scientists have for decades talked about how fusion, the nuclear reaction that makes stars shine, could provide a future source of bountiful energy.”

PBS (13 Dec 2022)

“Breakthrough in nuclear fusion technology could dramatically alter clean energy landscape” — For the first time, scientists have produced a fusion reaction that created more energy than was expended, a breakthrough to tap into the same kind of energy that powers the sun and stars. It could have huge implications for potentially creating clean and limitless energy. Science Correspondent Miles O’Brien joined Judy Woodruff to discuss what was achieved and what still needs to happen. [Source]

U.S. Department of Energy (13 Dec 2022)

“Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough Panel Discussion” — On December 5, a team at LLNL’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) conducted the first controlled fusion experiment in history to reach this milestone, also known as scientific energy breakeven, meaning it produced more energy from fusion than the laser energy used to drive it. This historic, first-of-its kind achievement will provide unprecedented capability to support NNSA’s Stockpile Stewardship Program and will provide invaluable insights into the prospects of clean fusion energy, which would be a game-changer for efforts to achieve President Biden’s goal of a net-zero carbon economy. [Source]

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com