U.S. energy officials announced Tuesday that government scientists in California produced the first successful nuclear fusion reaction resulting in net energy gain.
“This is what it looks like for America to lead, and we’re just getting started,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said of the “major scientific breakthrough” during a morning press conference in Washington, D.C.
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory said the National Ignition Facility’s historic achievement, also known as scientific energy breakeven, occurred on Dec. 5.
The experiment surpassed the fusion threshold by laboratory surpassed the fusion threshold by delivering 2.05 megajoules (MJ) of energy to the target, resulting in 3.15 MJ of fusion energy output.
US SCIENTISTS MAKE MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH IN ‘LIMITLESS, ZERO-CARBON’ FUSION ENERGY: REPORT
The milestone, first reported by the Financial Times, came following a decades-long quest to harness fusion, the energy that powers the sun.
No group had been able to produce more energy from the reaction than it consumes and fusion happens at temperatures and pressures that are difficult to control.
U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 23, 2021.
((Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images))
It works by pressing hydrogen atoms into each other with such force that they combine into helium, releasing enormous amounts of energy and heat.
In addition, unlike other nuclear reactions, it doesn’t create radioactive waste.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Director Kim Budil told reporters that it had taken 60 years of work to reach this point – a point that many said “was not possible.”
“This achievement opens up new scientific realms for us to explore and advances our capabilities for our national security missions,” she said. “It demonstrates the power of the U.S. leadership in science and technology and shows what we’re capable of as a nation.”
In this 2012 image provided by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a technician reviews an optic inside the preamplifier support structure at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif.
((Damien Jemison/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory via AP))
Budil noted that ignition is a first step that sets the stage for a transformational decade in high-energy-density science and fusion research.
NORTHEASTERN KANSAS OIL SPILL SHUTS DOWN KEYSTONE PIPELINE
It’s a technology that has the potential to accelerate the planet’s shift away from fossil fuels and produce nearly limitless, carbon-free energy.
FILE – This undated image provided by the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory shows the NIF Target Bay in Livermore, Calif. The system uses 192 laser beams converging at the center of this giant sphere to make a tiny hydrogen fuel pellet implode.
((Damien Jemison/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory via AP, File))
While producing energy that power homes and businesses from fusion is still decades away, researchers said it was a significant step.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Previously, researchers at the National Ignition Facility used nearly 200 lasers and temperatures multiple times hotter than the center of the sun to create an extremely brief fusion reaction.
FOX Business’ Bradford Betz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.