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‘America has achieved a tremendous scientific breakthrough’


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U.S. scientists have scored a breakthrough in fusion technology, showing for the first time that humans can wield the technology in a controlled reaction that combines atoms to create a net increase in energy, a major breakthrough that could eventually lead to a new source of clean, inexpensive power, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Tuesday.

"It’s the first time it’s ever been done at a laboratory. Simply put, this is one of the most impressive scientific feats in the 21st century,” Granholm said in a capacity-filled auditorium at the Department of Energy's headquarters in Washington. "Today we tell the world that America has achieved a tremendous scientific breakthrough.”

The achievement at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory came when 192 high-energy lasers converged on a diamond capsule containing a cylinder about the size of a peppercorn and filled with deuterium and tritium. The lasers entered either end of the cylinder and heated the contents to over 3 million degrees Celsius.

The reaction "briefly simulating the conditions of a star,” National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Jill Hruby said.

Lab lasers had triggered fusion reactions before. But this time, the scientists managed to keep the reaction going long enough to produce three megajoules of energy, more than the two megajoules the lasers had deposited, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Marvin Adams said at the event.

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