America has long been a place for innovation, and our winning streak is now extending well into the 21st century.
From the industrial revolution on through the electric car, Americans have been making the world a much different technological place for decades. Now it appears as though we may have made a breakthrough in one of the holy grails of science: Free energy.
The U.S. Department of Energy announced a breakthrough in nuclear fusion on Tuesday that puts the world one step closer to harnessing an abundant energy source free from carbon emissions and long-lived radioactive waste.Advertisement - story continues below
U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm confirmed that scientists achieved a reaction that created more energy than was used — known as a net energy gain — at the federally-funded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.
“Last week at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, scientists at the National Ignition Facility achieved fusion ignition,” Sec. Granholm said. “It’s the first time it’s ever been done. … Simply put, this is one of the most impressive scientific feats of the 21st century.”
So what exactly could this mean?
Such a development carries broad implications for renewable energy and long-term solutions to replace fossil fuels, though the benefits are still decades away.Advertisement - story continues below
“It’d be an enormous game changer,” Constellation Energy CEO Joe Dominguez told Yahoo Finance Live on Monday (video above). “We’ve been chasing this for a long time. But the developments we saw out of Lawrence Livermore are, I think, the best developments on fusion energy that we’ve seen since the work at Princeton probably 30 years ago with the TFTR [Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor]. So it’s very exciting. It’s transformational.”
In layman’s terms, nuclear fusion would produce energy much in the same way that our sun perpetually exerts heat and light, but at an obviously much smaller scale here on planet earth.
To put the breakthrough into perspective: Filling your truck with nuclear fusion fuel would give that vehicle the same amount of energy as 10 million barrels of oil.