National Ignition Facility — NIF

Fusion Power Has Finally Been Unlocked

NIF has reached a major milestone and produced power from fusion for the first time, just as I predicted.

Will Lockett
6 min readDec 15, 2022

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On Sunday, the 11th of December, the Financial Times announced a breakthrough that many people didn’t think would happen for decades to come. This unbelievable news was that the National Ignition Facility (NIF) had achieved a net gain in energy from a fusion experiment, making them the first to reach this astonishing milestone and, in the process, have finally unleashed this planet-saving energy source. But does this mean we will soon see nuclear fusion power plants? Or will we have to wait a bit longer for our fusion-powered utopian future?

Before we dive into this utterly brilliant breakthrough, let’s quickly recap what fusion is and how NIF works.

Nuclear fusion is the process that powers the Sun. The Sun is made of mostly hydrogen, and in its core, the temperature and pressure are so high that the collisions between hydrogen atoms have enough kinetic energy to overcome the repulsive forces that keep atoms separate. These collisions cause the two hydrogen atoms to fuse together into a single, larger helium atom, but because a helium atom is slightly less heavy than two hydrogen atoms (as it needs fewer gluons in its nucleus), this excess mass is turned into energy and released. As Einstein stated in his famous E=MC² equation, a small amount of mass is equal to a vast amount of energy. This means that a single fusion reaction releases an ungodly amount of power via radiation and heat.

To give you an idea of how powerful fusion is, if you fused 17 tonnes of hydrogen, the energy released would be enough to power the entire US for a year. That equates to only 0.05 grammes of hydrogen per US citizen! What’s more, helium is the only gas emitted throughout this process. This incredible fuel efficiency and zero carbon emissions make fusion power one of the most eco-friendly energy sources on Earth.

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Will Lockett

Independent journalist covering global politics, climate change and technology. Get articles early at www.planetearthandbeyond.co