Committee Members Congratulate NIF on Breakthrough Achievement of Fusion Ignition

Science Committee Democrats
3 min readDec 13, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 13, 2022

(Washington, DC) — Today, the Department of Energy announced a major breakthrough in fusion energy. On December 5, 2022, researchers at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) of Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL) conducted an experiment that yielded the first-ever net-gain of fusion energy. In August of 2021, NIF reached an energy yield of 1.3 megajoules (MJ). In last Monday’s experiment, they reached more than 3 MJ. Fusion “ignition” refers to the moment when the energy from a controlled fusion reaction outstrips the rate at which x-ray radiation losses and electron conduction cool the implosion: as much or more energy “out” than “in.”

“I would like to heartily congratulate the dedicated researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, as well as their partners throughout the country who worked to support this effort over several decades,” said Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). “This result is a monumental achievement for the U.S. fusion research community, and it is a testament to the breakthrough possibilities that can be reached through patient, diligent adherence to the scientific process and through steady, substantial investments in the people that carry out this work. I hope that the Department will now take this opportunity to fully implement the fusion research provisions recently authorized in the landmark CHIPS and Science Act, and before that in the Energy Act of 2020. Among other important provisions, these laws include direction to the Department to establish and fully support an inertial fusion research program for energy applications, which would leverage the expertise developed at the National Ignition Facility and elsewhere to explore the potential for significant new pathways to our clean energy future.”

“Congratulations to the team at the National Ignition Facility for this historic and inspiring result,” said Subcommittee on Energy Chairman Jamaal Bowman (D-NY). “Though the work performed at the National Ignition Facility is funded by the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration for defense purposes, the results of this experiment have tremendous implications for our clean energy future. As Chairman of the Energy Subcommittee on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, I have called on the Administration to support a robust budget for the Office of Science, including the Fusion Energy Sciences program, and to follow the statutory direction passed into law by the Committee to start an inertial fusion energy program to help advance these technologies. It is my hope that today’s announcement will encourage the Department to act swiftly. Achieving fusion energy would be transformative for our country and planet, which is exactly the type of research that our government should be doubling down on. This is arguably the biggest achievement in fusion history, and I am confident that the best is yet to come if we only put our resources where our rhetoric has been on this.”

“This is a very big deal. We can celebrate another performance record by the National Ignition Facility (NIF). This latest achievement is particularly remarkable because NIF used a less spherically-symmetrical target than in the August 2021 experiment,” said Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). “This significant advancement showcases the future possibilities for the commercialization of fusion energy. Congress and the Administration need to fully fund and properly implement the fusion research provisions in the recent CHIPS and Science Act and likely more. During World War II, we crafted the Manhattan Project for a timely result. The challenges facing the world today are even greater than at that time. We must double down and accelerate the research to explore new pathways for the clean, limitless energy that fusion promises.”

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Additional Resources: In August 2022, Science Committee Members call for strong funding for DOE’s Office of Science.

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Science Committee Democrats

U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology