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NRC backs investment in inertial fusion energy R&D

The potential benefits of inertial fusion energy—which would provide an essentially carbon-free energy source with a practically unlimited supply of fuel—justify continued federal investment as part of the long-term US energy R&D portfolio, a National Research Council committee has concluded.

Inertial fusion energy (IFE) relies on a process in which a tiny fuel pellet is compressed by an external energy source, raising the temperature and density sufficiently for the nuclei of some of the fuel atoms to fuse together, releasing nuclear energy, the NRC explained. The goal is ignition, in which the fusion energy produced by the initial compression causes the remaining fuel to undergo fusion, the organisation added.

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