LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Science fiction is one step closer to reality as the energy department announces a breakthrough in the decades-long quest for nuclear fusion.

Fusion is the energy that powers the sun and stars, it works by pressing hydrogen atoms into each other with so much force that they make helium and release enormous amounts of energy and heat.

Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and other officials said the breakthrough will pave the way for advancements in national defense and the future of clean power.

And one Michigan State University Expert said this development could launch a whole new era for clean energy.

MSU Foundation Professor Andrew Christlieb said this was the result of 60 years of hard work, but there’s still more work to do. It could be another 20 years before fusion is used to power our world.

This could mean renewable energy that doesn’t rely on fossil fuels, which contribute to climate change, or non-reliable sources like wind and solar power.

He said this is the first time we’ve been able to generate the same process that the sun does in releasing energy here on Earth.

He adds with this announcement, it’s an exciting time to be involved with fusion energy.

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Andrew Christlieb

“In a future where we have fusion energy, it’s a clean energy source, it’s a renewable energy source, if done correctly it could become an inexpensive energy source, and so this is a step in moving that direction,” Christlieb said.

Despite the energy gained through the achievement, for fusion to be possible in the future, it needs to produce significantly more power and for a much longer duration.