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UK joins laser nuclear fusion project via BBC News

9 September 2011 Last updated at 00:34 ET

By Jason Palmer Science and technology reporter, BBC News

The UK has formally joined forces with a US laser lab in a bid to develop clean energy from nuclear fusion.

Unlike fission plants, the process uses lasers to compress atomic nuclei until they join, releasing energy.

The National Ignition Facility (Nif) in the US is drawing closer to producing a surplus of energy from the idea.

The UK company AWE and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory have now joined with Nif to help make laser fusion a viable commercial energy source.

At a meeting this week sponsored by the Institute of Physics and held at London’s Royal Society, a memorandum of understanding was announced between the three facilities.

The meeting attracted scientists and industry members in an effort to promote wider UK involvement with the technology that would be required to make laser fusion energy plants possible.

“This is an absolutely classic example of the connections between really high-grade theoretical scientific research, business and commercial opportunities, and of course a fundamental human need: tackling pressures that we’re all familiar with on our energy supply,” said David Willetts, the UK’s science minister.

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