For the first time ever, scientists successfully produced a nuclear fusion reaction resulting in a net energy gain.
Decades of effort have gone into fusion energy, which promises almost limitless carbon-free power — without the dangerous waste from traditional fission reactors.
Scientists at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California made a massive step forward. The Department of Energy is expected to announce the breakthrough officially on Tuesday.
The result of the experiment is a massive success after a decades-long quest to unleash an infinite source of clean energy that could help end dependence on fossil fuels.
For decades researchers have worked to recreate nuclear fusion, which is replicating the one that powers the sun. Nuclear fusion happens when two or more atoms are fused into one larger one, a process that generates a massive amount of energy as heat.
The breakthrough promises a boost for clean energy goals.
It will probably still be years, if not decades until the fusion becomes a major part of the electrical grid. Progress in showing conceptual viability would be just one stop on the long scientific, technical and financial road to commercializing this long-elusive holy grail.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will announce that scientists for the first time produced a fusion reaction that creates a net energy gain, a milestone in the quest to develop a technology that provides unlimited, cheap, clean power.
More work will need to be done in order to generate electricity on a commercial scale.
The big challenge of harnessing fusion energy is sustaining it long enough so that it can power electric grids and heating systems around the globe.