US National Ignition Facility edges closer to fusion with new record

Scientists at the energy centre managed to fire 2.15 megajoules of energy into a target chamber

By Jonny Bairstow

The US National Ignition Facility (NIF) has set a new nuclear fusion record by firing 2.15 megajoules of energy into its target chamber.

This is a 15% improvement on the site’s design specification and more than 10% higher than the previous record, set in 2012.

Scientists at NIF say the result brings their work ever closer to achieving ignition, a vital step to unlocking the vital combination of fusion with a net energy gain.

NIF Director Mark Herrmann said: “These results mark a major step toward increasing NIF’s energy and power capability.

“This demonstration serves as the first step on a path that could allow NIF to operate at substantially higher energies than ever envisioned during NIF’s design.”

An Oxford-based fusion energy firm is investing £3.6 million to build a pulsed power device with the aim of bringing the technology closer to reality.