We’ll never achieve unlimited energy. And for that perhaps we should be grateful.

By Crawford Kilian, The Tyee

The media went wild on Dec. 13 when American scientists and officials reported the first instance of hydrogen fusion that actually produced more energy than they had pumped into it. By slamming hydrogen atoms together inside a tiny diamond shell, the force of 192 high-powered lasers had created helium and 3.15 megajoules of excess energy — “the equivalent,” according to one report, “of about three sticks of dynamite.”

fusion reactor

The test had been conducted on Dec. 5 at the National Ignition Facility of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, east of the San Francisco Bay Area. The NIF promptly issued a long news release praising the scientists “whose work will help us solve humanity’s most complex and pressing problems, like providing clean power to combat climate change and maintaining a nuclear deterrent without nuclear testing.”

That nuclear-deterrent line said the quiet part out loud, just as a U.S. government official had in the press conference about the test. Marvin Adams, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s deputy director for defense programs, made it clear at the press conference that this and future tests would help in the design of better nuclear weapons, thereby enhancing the credibility of U.S. deterrence. Oh, and yes, we might someday see “basically unlimited” carbon-free energy.

Read More