It may look like a stadium or factory, but this building could contain the answer to safe renewable energy of the future. Here at The National Ignition Facility in Livermore, California, scientists are aiming to build the world’s first sustainable fusion reactor by ‘creating a miniature star on Earth’. At a cost of about $1.8 billion (£1.2 billion), the National Ignition Facility in Livermore will focus the world’s most powerful laser on to a spot little bigger than a pinhead, recreating ? for the briefest of instants ? the conditions found at the centre of planets, and even stars.
With all the talk of green energy alternatives, we know our greatest hope for sustainability is no longer drilling holes for oil or decapitating mountains for “clean coal“. Yes, solar, wind, wave, geo-thermal, conservation and recycling are all critical. But there is a larger need, a voracious appetite for energy that will require large output facilities. Traditional nuclear is not the answer. The poison seed we are planting in the desert will be our 10,000 year legacy. A legacy made worse by importing other nations nuclear waste. The hope for mankind’s energy needs in the 21st century is controlled thermonuclear fusion and at $3.9 billion (GAO est.), that is exactly what the National Ignition Facility (NIF) is built to do.
The National Ignition Facility (NIF) is the world’s largest laser. It was built with the goal of studying the conditions needed to create controlled nuclear fusion on earth (the process our sun uses to generate energy). It is hoped that humanity is finally on the verge of unlocking the secrets of galactic grade power. This would provide clean, limitless energy for all. At least that is the hope. The steps necessary to get here have been herculean. On May 29th, 2009 the star power business was opened.