I remember seeing the movie Chain Reaction back in 1996 and praying that nuclear fusion would become a reality in my lifetime. And according to researchers at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory (LLNL) in California, it just might. At the facility’s National Ignition Facility (NIF), researchers are gearing up to test the potentially unlimited power source.
The NIF has almost finished construction on the world’s largest laser. After its completion in March 2009, researchers will start to prepare for fusion ignition. The first attempt is scheduled for 2010, with nuclear fusion expected to occur in 2011.
Once fusion is reached, researchers speculate that a pilot power generation plant could be ready as soon as 2020, with commercialization following soon after.
Nuclear fusion—limitless, clean nuclear energy produced by combining atoms—has been a pipe dream for scientists and sci-fi geeks for decades. Now it’s no longer out of reach—just as long as we survive our immediate energy crisis intact.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Livermore Laboratory