News media reports year-old Fusion results

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By Steven B. Krivit
January 26, 2022

Some of the 192 lasers at the US National Ignition Facility (Photo: S. Krivit)

Today, media organizations like Reuters reported that “researchers take a major step on the road to nuclear fusion power.”

This is because the newspaper Nature published year-old results of laser fusion experiments performed at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in Livermore, California.

In the experiences reported in the paperthe researchers reported a fusion energy yield of 0.17 megajoules.

Omar A. Hurricane, the chief scientist of the inertial confinement fusion program at the lab, explained to The new times of energy that these experiments took place between November 2020 and February 2021.

The fusion energy yield of these experiments was eight times inferior than the yield obtained later, in August 2021. It was then that the laboratory announced, in a press release, that it had carried out an experiment on August 8, 2021, which achieved a yield of 1.3 megajoules.

As we reported last August, the NIF device consumed 400 megajoules of energy and produced 1.3 megajoules.

Disregarding the input power consumed, Reuters suggested that the experiments produced a useful but small amount of power: “The power produced was modest – about the equivalent of nine nine-volt batteries of the type that power smoke detectors and other small devices.

These experiments lost 99.7% of the energy consumed by the entire system. They only lasted a billionth of a second. It may be time for the media to reconsider the meaning of the words “step” and “breakthrough” when reporting on nuclear fusion.