US Energy Department announces fusion breakthrough

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 10:16 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Finally, after nearly a century of efforts, science may discovered how to produce fusion which can be used to generate energy to heat out homes and provide electricity with no greenhouse gas emissions.

“Simply put, this is one of the most impressive scientific feats of the 21st century,” said US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

A fusion lab in California completed the task which has eluded scientists for decades although commercial use of fusion is likely still decades away but the achievement is being hailed a monumental achievement.

“It’s like putting a man on the moon, it’s a small step, but a large step at the same time,” said Dr. Johann Refelski, a physics professor at the University of Arizona.

Even the most optimistic predictions say the commercial use of fusion is maybe a decade or two away, maybe more. There needs to be a consensus and financial and political will which in the past has been hard to come by.

“I have studied fusion seven times in my 50 years of science because the opportunities opened up and they were not sustained,” Dr. Refelski said. “Every time, after two or three years something happened and the political will disappeared.”

“If this time, the political will is sustained, fusion will generate energy for our homes without the use of carbon based fuels. That would be good for the environment and is an opportunity to combat climate change. More importantly, there’s an abundance of fuel..

“We’re talking about using sea water as the basic fuel, no nuclear waste to speak of, this is clean, efficient,” said Physics Professor Dr. Michio Koku. “This is mother nature’s way of generating energy throughout the universe.”

If in fact, fusion holds so much promise for the future, the question becomes what happens to the renewables like solar and wind. There has always been a stiff competition for scarce research dollars. “If there’s funding, people will drop what they’re doing and switch the renewables, and this includes the university of Arizona,” Dr. Rafelsky said.