Article by Chelsea Julian for the University of Oklahoma
The U.S. Department of Energy officially announced a breakthrough in fusion energy research. The discovery, made at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), uses lasers to replicate the way the sun generates energy through fusion reactions. The breakthrough discovery sets the stage for commercialization of fusion energy, a source of low-cost, abundant power for the planet that would be safe and free of greenhouse gas emissions and long-lived radioactive waste.
The University of Oklahoma has developed collaborations with Longview Fusion Energy Systems Inc., a company based in Livermore, CA aiming to commercialize LLNL’s scientific breakthrough and develop the first pilot fusion power plant. OU has also established partnerships with Oklahoma-based Tribal Nations and industry partners to develop new fusion engineering and technology workforce development programs that will benefit Oklahoma communities.
“The University of Oklahoma has a legacy of being a leader in petroleum engineering and is strategically expanding our teaching and research to meet the energy demands of the future,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “This breakthrough in fusion energy is an exciting discovery, and OU will be at the forefront in developing the expertise and workforce needed to help Oklahoma pioneer this promising technology.”
In addition to the technology needed for commercialization, OU’s Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis is leading research into the development of an evidence-based approach to understanding the societal implications of fusion energy. IPPRA researchers have decades of experience integrating public policy scholarship with physical and engineering sciences to create actionable solutions to societal challenges.
“Now that the vision has been realized and the science proven, we are optimistic that the integration of fusion energy into the U.S. and global energy profile is within reach. At OU, we are working with our industry partners to be able to support the workforce development, the siting of manufacturing facilities, and more – all of which could bring thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of economic development to Oklahoma,” said OU Vice President for Research and Partnerships and former Deputy Director for Science and Technology and Chief Research Officer of LLNL Tomás Díaz de la Rubia. “We’re excited about being the university that is going to help lead the fusion energy revolution.”