Author – Jim Blankenhorn
Congratulations to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory team! Their major scientific accomplishment late last year in achieving scientific energy breakeven, or producing a fusion energy output higher than the laser energy absorbed by the fuel to initiate it, was groundbreaking. This major scientific accomplishment which demonstrates the fundamental science basis for inertial fusion energy was made at the National Ignition Facility, located at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and was decades in the making. We are proud to be a part of Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, which accomplished this unprecedented capability for advancements in our national defense and the future of clean energy on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Fusion is the process by which two light nuclei combine to form a single heavy nucleus, with the excess mass converting to and releasing a large amount of energy. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory National Ignition Facility is a laser-based fusion research facility that houses the world’s largest and highest energy laser.
While this achievement is spectacular, there is more work ahead to harness the potential of fusion energy. This astonishing scientific advancement is encouraging about what possibilities lie ahead to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels and the possibility of new clean fusion energy. There is much work to be done by the superb scientific community to build on this achievement, and the Amentum team of experts is positioned to help make fusion energy a reality within the next decade.
Looking to the future, fusion will move from the research laboratory to industrial/commercial production and there is a possibility that a viable nuclear fusion reactor could be available in the next 3-5 years. There are key research and development challenges that must be solved in transitioning to commercial use to make fusion a reality in this era of clean energy technology, including generation, control and sustainment of a burning plasma reaction, methods to harness the power of burning plasma in a controlled reaction, and conversion of power to a sustainable energy source. The combination of the progress at several scientific communities, including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), and the Soonest/Smallest Private-Funded Affordable Robust Reactor (SPARC) are on track to demonstrate controlled fusion power, both domestically and internationally.
At Amentum, we have decades of experience solving complex technical challenges in the design, commissioning and start-up of high hazard, highly regulated nuclear and industrial facilities. Our extremely talented engineering and technical staff bring industry-recognized subject matter expertise to create innovative solutions to one-of-a-kind problems, integrating science with the physical world.
Our team is supporting clean energy research, advancing technical solutions for corporate projects and for several customers and national laboratories. Amentum looks forward to playing a pivotal role in developing and delivering clean energy solutions for a safer, smarter, cleaner world.