2014-03-17. Machinery of an Energy Dream--The Challenge: How to Keep Fusion Going Long Enough.

posted Mar 18, 2014, 11:21 AM by Alan Gould
For GSS Energy Use chapter 10. Excerpt: LIVERMORE, Calif. — Fusion, the process that powers the sun, is the forever dream of energy scientists — safe, nonpolluting and almost boundless. Even here at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where the primary focus of fusion work involves nuclear weapons, many scientists talk poetically about how it could end the world’s addiction to fossil fuels. “It’s the dream of the future, solving energy,” said Stephen E. Bodner, a retired physicist who worked on fusion at Livermore in the 1960s and ’70s.... The basic concept behind fusion is simple: Squeeze hydrogen atoms hard enough and they fuse together in helium. A helium atom weighs slightly less than the original hydrogen atoms, and by Einstein’s equation E = mc2, that liberated bit of mass turns into energy. Hydrogen is so abundant that unlike fossil fuels or fissionable material like uranium, it will never run out. ...Last month, a team headed by Omar A. Hurricane announced that it had used Livermore’s giant lasers to fuse hydrogen atoms and produce flashes of energy, like miniature hydrogen bombs. The amount of energy produced was tiny — the equivalent of what a 60-watt light bulb consumes in five minutes. But that was five times the output of attempts a couple of years ago.... http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/18/science/the-challenge-how-to-keep-fusion-going-long-enough.html. Kenneth Chang, The New York Times.