According to the BBC, “European scientists say they have made a major breakthrough in their quest to develop practical nuclear fusion — the energy process that powers the stars.
Experiments at the UK-based JET laboratory produced 59 megajoules of energy over five seconds (11 megawatts of power), beating its own previous record by more than double in 1997.
The excitement around this, which produced roughly enough energy to boil water in about 60 kettles, is that it validates current research and shows incredible promise. “We’ve demonstrated that we can create a mini star inside of our machine and hold it there for five seconds and get high performance, which really takes us into a new realm,” the BBC quotes Dr Joe Milnes, the head of operations at the reactor lab as saying. Fusion differs from fission in that the process forces atoms together rather than splitting them, which is how existing nuclear fission reactors work. Though we’re still two decades or more from the commercialization of nuclear fusion, this breakthrough offers great potential for powering our planet with clean energy in the second half of this century.