Fusion Breakthough: More Energy Out Than In Reported at Nuclear Ignition Facility

Here’s a report from the UK’s Independent newspaper about a breakthrough at the Nuclear Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. (Thanks to Brad Lowe at vortex-l for sharing this)

“Scientists in California said on Wednesday night that they have for the first time managed to release more energy from their nuclear fusion experiment than they put into it, which marks a critical threshold in eventually achieving the goal of a self-sustaining nuclear-fusion reaction.”

At the NIF, researchers have been focusing 192 lasers on a fuel pellet composed of tritium and deuterium applying enough pressure to fuse atoms together, releasing more energy than the lasers consume — for a billionth of a second. The breakthrough apparently came after laser pulses were modified so as to apply even pressure on the fuel pellet.

Achieving OU is considered a major milestone for a hot fusion project — this is what researchers have been working towards for decades in this field. I am sure this will be seen as great news among supporters of fusion energy, and will encourage intensified research and support for fusion programs. I’m not sure there will be any knock-on effect for cold fusion, however.

  • jousterusa

    The Washington Post wrote about this issue today, and I wrote a response I’d liek to share with E-catworld readers:

    This is a classic case of scientists being so involved in their research
    that they can’t see the forest for the trees. After spending $5.5 billion, they
    can’t even light a 25-watt bulb. Compare this research to the $80 million
    project to create the hydrino reactor, which is also occurring in Rush Holt’s
    district. In this instance, because Rush and the people at Princeton uniformly
    reject classical physics in favor of quantum mechanics, they will not and cannot
    acknowledge the validation of the hydrino theory advanced by Dr. Randell Mills
    of BlackLight Power in Cranbury, NJ, that was pragmatically demonstrated Jan.
    28th. It doesn’t matter that the Harvard/Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
    has confirmed the existence of the hydrino below the ground state of hydrogen,
    or that scientists from CalTech, MIT and other leading physicists at
    universities and private corporations have confirmed Dr. Mills’
    theoretical findings, or that his team has published 86 peer-reviewed journal
    articles, or even that the Post’s CrowdSource blog found that
    another form of energy creation called Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR) is the most promising source of new energy. In that matter, Dr. Andrea Rossi – whose work has been hailed by NASA scientists in an official video – has created
    a device called the Energy Catalyzer that uses LENR science to crate 1mW devices
    it has sold to the US military for $1.5 million. No, nothing matters except the
    bullshit microscopic advances of the $5.5-billion behemoth that goes nowhere.
    You are a sucker for a pack of publicists who are spending our money – some $50
    billion over the past half-century – with nothing but a lot of expensive
    circuitry to show for it.
    the most promising source of new energy. In that matter, Dr. Andrea Rossi –
    whose work has been hailed by NASA scientists in an official video – has created
    a device called the Energy Catalyzer that uses LENR science to crate 1mW devices
    it has sold to the US military for $1.5 million. No, nothing matters except the
    bullshit microscopic advances of the $5.5-billion behemoth that goes nowhere.
    You are a sucker for a pack of publicists who are spending our money – some $50
    billion over the past half-century – with nothing but a lot of expensive
    circuitry to show for it.

  • NCkhawk

    We have to admit – these folks have a very competent PR team. The LLNL contract is up for renewal / re-negotiation this year – they needed some positive news.

  • Donk970

    The first ITER power plant is going to cost a trillion dollars and will be able to light a 100 watt light bulb and people say LENR is a hoax.

  • Obvious

    I see the real problem with pathoskepticism now. Its actually quite fun.

  • Frechette

    Wonder what it would cost to replicate this experiment and have it peer reviewed?

    • Omega Z

      10, 20, 30, 40, 50 Billion or more,
      The Bloody red ink,
      Was rolling up the score-
      Many Men have Died trying to end this spree-
      Of the Bloody Red Ink,
      Of the Delusionary

      And it appears that the Bloody Red Ink, Is flying once more-

      • Allan Shura

        Perhaps money is being captured by a black hole stretching time.

    • Zeddicus Zul Zorander

      That comment just made my day!

  • ecatworld

    I was driving this morning and was quite surprised to hear in the NPR news headlines the story about this fusion milestone. The big news was that fusion had been achieved. They interviewed the director of the project (forgot the name) and he said that the fusion energy generated was only 1% of the energy input into the system. He said they hoped to do better in the future.

    I look forward to the day when NPR gives a similar report about LENR and explains that a system is producing 500% (or more) more energy than is input into the reactor.

  • Doktor Bob

    Hot Fusion – I dont believe it

    I demand that they take their 194 lasers – directed them on a cup of tea – heat the water – i drink the tea – then they should shoot another set of lasers and I drink another cup of tea – then I will believe in it

  • US_Citizen71

    Actually they are two orders of magnitude from unity if you read the article in National Geographic. The pico-fusion bomb they set off only produced 1% of the energy needed to pump up the lasers and run the control circuitry.

  • GreenWin

    The hard numbers appear to be 2MJ IN of which only 17kJ reach target. Why? Because…er, diffraction of the photonic coherence by dilithium crystalmeth produces a matrix of nano-black holes in the frontal lobes of NIF scientists! Doh! Yielding a staggering 17.0000001kJ for 150Pseconds! These black holes are teleported by classified entanglization to the editors of Journal Nature who bump and grind in NerdElation before publishing this PAP behind an overpriced pay wall. Tax payers triumph!

    • BroKeeper


  • Daniel Maris

    If only we could put off old age in the way hot fusion scientists put off payday.

  • Job001

    Demand calorimetry!

  • Alan DeAngelis

    “… produces none of the more dangerous and long-lasting isotopes, such as enriched uranium and plutonium, that result from conventional nuclear power plants…”
    Yeah, but where do they get the tritium to run this thing?

    • Obvious

      And what about the produced high energy neutron that slams into something? Pretty good chance the impacted object gets radioactive.

      • Alan DeAngelis

        How much glue do I have to sniff in order to appreciate the significance of this breakthrough?

        • Obvious

          It seems that the novel part is laser initiation, rather than a magnetic bottle/impact system.

          So now, the laser type system has “caught up” to the magnetic systems.

          • Alan DeAngelis

            Ah yes, Beavis has caught up with Butt-head.

            • GreenWin

              LOL!! True!

        • Doktor Bob

          There is not glue enough in the world
          I recommend lobotomy

  • Omega Z

    So basically
    Fire 10 watts of energy at the target.
    9 watts gets lost or deflected to neverland?
    1 watt makes it to target & Target gives off 1 watt plus.

    OK! I’ll be Kinder, Gentler, Then anyone would be should Rossi or any other LENR developer provide such a statement.

    Technically, They did succeed at Fusion.

    They also state that it will be DECADES or longer before any practical Energy is produced. Same old Same old. Always 20 to 50 years away Another couple hundred Billion$ to go.

    I didn’t dig very deep, But I’m Sure this is the same test(Previously discussed here at ECW) that was reported before. However, The 1st time reported, it was considered a “Fail” as All Energy expended was included even that, that was lost to neverland.
    Such a Report is Not good for continued Funding Prospects.

    Now, It’s Reported a 2nd time with the New Twist.
    Their Justification for additional BILLION$ in Funding…

    • Job001

      Omega Z, They sent in 100 units, and as you’ve noted,
      1 watt makes it to target & Target gives off 1 watt plus.

      Even had they exceeded 1000X plus they cannot beat the economics of wind, solar, or LENR+ by the time NIF has a commercial product – see learning curves.
      Too little, far too expensive, far too late, and it never was about energy for humanity but war research. Damned disappointing performance history.

      • Omega Z

        I agree 100% Job001

        This was always a duel purpose project with Laser advancement being the priority.
        Also the required size(Limited deployment zones), risk & costs of these hot fusion projects preclude any possibility they would ever provide energy to everyone or at a reasonable economic cost.

        Actually, I’ve seen graphs projecting Electrical prices skyrocketing overtime to over $1 per Kwh, so in that context, They may think it could be competitive. I see it as most of the population being in the dark.

        And from Proponents of this technology, state that there are only about a dozen sites in the World Isolated enough to build these behemoths. This requirement is because of the risk of a wall breach & catastrophic failure.

        The precautions Required by the Proponents of this technology brings visions of a containment breach of an Anti-Matter Reactor on the Star Trek Enterprise. Not a Pretty Picture.

  • Freethinker


    As much as I hope they will be successful, the only thing I see when reading the piece is “blah blah blah, blahaha blaha”.

    Have there not already been claim of achieving unity in the hot fusion area?

    They will have to make a more distinct mark to get my attention. This is to me just a show for more money. Get back when you have like energy yield factor of 3, or why not 6. You know, some arbitrary number like that.

    So it goes. Noting to see here, move along.

  • US_Citizen71

    The more energy out than in statement is only technically true.

    “However, though the output exceeded the energy actually delivered to the fuel by the lasers, it was only about one percent of the total energy used to fire the lasers and in the rest of the experiment. “We’re going to keep pushing,” Hurricane said.” – http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/02/140212-laser-facility-blasts-way-to-fusion-first/

    If Rossi or anyone involved in alternative energy sciences made the same type of technical claim the words fraud and scam would be used abundantly and continuously to describe their experiment and themselves personally.

    • Obvious

      I wonder what percent of the total system energy was required to build the device, let alone fire lasers from it.

    • nightcreature3

      … so it looks like we won’t be holding our breath on this one !

  • Christopher Calder

    That costly version of hot fusion using expensive high powered lasers will never be economical, and I doubt their calculations consider all the energy inputs required to make it work.

    The simple and cheap Lockheed Martin hot fusion solution is much better. See the video which was previously posted on this site – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAsRFVbcyUY

    There are several other low cost hot fusion solutions being explored by other companies as well.

  • Pekka Janhunen

    The terminology is sometimes a bit confusing. Hot fusionists seem to call the energy gain ratio the ratio of the produced fusion energy divided by the energy expended, and they seem to call breakevent the point where the energy gain ratio becomes unity. However, this number being unity is rather arbitrary choice without some deeper meaning. On the other hand, overunity usually refers to energy out being larger than energy in, that is, by the energy gain ratio being above zero. In this sense, all hot fusion experiments which produce at least some fusion events are overunity.

    For practical applications, the electric energy out should be larger than electric energy in. As we know this is Rossi’s goal as well. This point corresponds to energy ratio ratio being substantially larger than unity, the exact value depends on technical details such as conversion efficiency. In particular, achieving “breakevent” does not yet mean getting some net electric energy out and having a self-sustaining reaction in the strict sense.

    Energy gain ratio of 1 corresponds to Rossi’s COP of 2. (Rossi doesn’t like to use the term, but hasn’t proposed a replacement.) With his COP=6 Rossi is thus much ahead of NIF’s COP=2, even if one forgets the cost difference of their hardware, neutron flux problem in hot fusion etc.

  • psi2u2

    And, after $300 billion in taxpayer supported boondoggle, with LENR on the verge of lighting our world….a net microwatt.

  • Gerard McEk

    Scientists had expected worse results after the modification. It is not yet clear why it has improved. Do not worry, it will take a long tim before a usable COP will be reached, if ever.

    • Doug Cutler

      The sun is a fully functioning fusion reactor. At the moment we can now capture its power for