Nuclear fusion breakthrough? What a new discovery could mean

Published: Dec. 12, 2022 at 4:35 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A potential breakthrough in the so-called holy grail of clean energy.

Nuclear fusion happens when multiple atoms are fused into a single, larger atom generating a massive amount of energy as heat.

Scientists have pursued it for decades and they say they just made a big breakthrough.

The U.S. Department of Energy is reportedly set to announce on Tuesday that scientists have produced the first-ever nuclear fusion reaction that creates more energy than it uses.

Alain Brizard, a theoretical physicist at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, describes it as using some 200 high-powered lasers focused on a small fuel pellet to cause the reaction.

He says there’s potential, but there are significant technological hurdles in scaling it up.

“Once you have used a pellet and produced thermal energy or fusion energy, you need to remove it and replace it and make sure that the conditions are suitable to produce another reaction. So that’s a lot more difficult technologically,” Brizard said.

He thinks the version of nuclear fusion being worked on overseas right now, which relies on magnetism instead of lasers, has a better chance of becoming a reality as an energy source because it’s less technologically difficult.

The goal, ultimately, is to create an infinite source of clean energy to reduce fossil fuel dependency.

Watch the video to see our Cat Viglienzoni’s full conversation with Alain Brizard.