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'Major scientific breakthrough' in fusion energy — Department of Energy set to reveal findings: Report

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The United States Department of Energy is scheduled to announce a "major scientific breakthrough" regarding fusion energy on Tuesday, according to the Financial Times.

The Biden administration's Inflation Reduction Act promises $370 billion in funding for low-carbon energy research.

Three people familiar with the preliminary findings of the research told the Financial Times that, for the first time, scientists were successfully able to produce a fusion reaction that generated a net energy gain.

Never before have scientists been able to produce more energy from a fusion reaction than it burns. Yet, even with this breakthrough, scientists believe commercial use of fusion power is still decades away.

The DOE announced that Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Undersecretary of Energy for Nuclear Security Jill Hruby are scheduled to reveal the experiment's results at a Tuesday media event.

Until then, lab officials are finalizing their findings. The DOE declined to provide further comment regarding the research, the Financial Times reported.

If confirmed, the development would mark a significant milestone in the pursuit of clean energy. Since the 1950s, scientists have attempted to replicate and harness the same fusion power that powers the sun.

The development, which was both privately and publicly funded, was made by the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

A senior fusion scientist familiar with the research told the Washington Post, "To most of us, this was only a matter of time."

According to those familiar with the development, the California laboratory uses a process referred to as inertial confinement fusion, which smashes a pellet of hydrogen plasma with the world's largest laser.

Fusion reaction does not emit carbon, and it has the potential to power a house for centuries with only a small cup of hydrogen fuel.

"Initial diagnostic data suggests another successful experiment at the National Ignition Facility. However, the exact yield is still being determined and we can't confirm that it is over the threshold at this time," the laboratory told the Financial Times. "That analysis is in process, so publishing the information ... before that process is complete would be inaccurate."

Dr. Arthur Turrell, a plasma physicist, told the Financial Times, "If this is confirmed, we are witnessing a moment of history."

"Scientists have struggled to show that fusion can release more energy than is put in since the 1950s, and the researchers at Lawrence Livermore seem to have finally and absolutely smashed this decades-old goal," Turrell added.

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