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What Will a Fusion Power Plant Look Like?

February 1, 2023

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced on Dec. 13 “the achievement of fusion ignition.” The milestone is a major scientific breakthrough, decades in the making. Fusion, of course, is the process by which two light nuclei combine to form a single heavier nucleus, releasing a large amount of energy. We’ve all seen it in action—it’s what powers the sun.

The energy produced during the DOE experiment was not enormous. A total of 2.05 megajoules (MJ) of energy was delivered to the target assembly, resulting in 3.15 MJ of fusion energy output. In terms people might be more familiar with, that’s a net output of 0.3056 kWh. I have a small portable generator in my garage that produces more than that. Nonetheless, this first-of-a-kind achievement is a remarkable step forward for fusion power.

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