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For The First Time Scientists- Supported By UR’s Laser Lab- Have Produced A Fusion Reaction That Creates A Net Energy Gain — A Major Milestone In The Quest To Create Zero-Carbon Power Through Nuclear Fusion And Fight Climate Change; The Laser Shot Which Resulted In Ignition Was Developed With Rochester Trained LLE Scientists

In 2018 UR’s Laser Lab Was At Risk Of Closing, But Schumer Fought Non-Stop To Increase Federal Support To Keep The Lab Open- Now Thanks To Schumer’s Efforts Rochester Scientists Have Helped Achieve One Of The Biggest Clean Energy Innovations In Decades 

Schumer: Major Discovery Brings Focus To Rochester Laser Lab As World Leader In Clean Energy Research  

Washington, D.C. – After fighting for years to save the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) and increase funding to the facility, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer today released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced for the first time that scientists supported by Rochester’s LLE have produced a nuclear fusion reaction with a net energy gain- a major milestone in fight against climate change and creating cheap, clean power:

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said, “The University of Rochester’s Lab for Laser Energetics (LLE), fueled by its 400 Rochester workers, is a key partner in our nation’s Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) program that today produced this breakthrough at Lawrence Livermore National Labs and is a powerhouse in our nation’s long-sought pursuit to create a new unlimited source of clean energy from fusion.  This astonishing scientific advance puts us on the precipice of a future no longer reliant on fossil fuels but instead powered by new clean fusion energy which is why I fought and ultimately succeeded four years ago in reversing a plan that would have then closed the Rochester Laser Lab for good.  Instead I secured record funding to expand their work because making this future clean energy world a reality will require our physicists, innovative workers, and brightest minds at our DOE-funded institutions, including the Rochester Laser Lab, to double down on their cutting-edge work.” 

Schumer added, “That’s why I’m also proud to announce today that I’ve helped to secure the highest ever authorization of over $624 million this year in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the ICF program to build on this amazing breakthrough.”

According to DOE, for the first time every scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Labs (LLNL) have, achieved ignition of a fusion reaction that created a net gain of energy.  Fusion, which is produced by combining atoms to produce energy is the same reaction which powers our sun and has long been pursued as an ideal energy source due to its potential to be a safe, clean, cheap, and reliable.  The LLE has played a significant role in reaching this historic scientific achievement. DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) program maintains only three unique, world-leading science facilities: the NIF at LLNL in California, the Z Pulsed Power Facility (Z) at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, and LLE’s Omega Laser Facility.  As LLNL’s principal partner and the largest DOE university-based program in the nation, LLE educates and trains scientists, who are able to perform experiments at LLE before they scale them on the NIF. Several of the researchers on the project were educated and trained at LLE’s Omega Laser Facility and researchers at LLE developed diagnostics included in the laser shot that resulted in ignition. In addition, LLE scientists were involved in the “red team” review of the initial results. 

This discovery would not have been possible without years of steadfast advocacy by Senator Schumer to both save and increase funding for Rochester’s Laser Lab and the overall DOE ICF program which supports the LLE, LLNL, and Sandia National Lab’s Z Pulsed Power Facility. In 2018, after a budget proposal recommended to defund the Laser Lab within three years and eliminate hundreds of high-tech jobs in Rochester, Schumer launched an all-out push to reverse the closure plan and instead increase funding for the Lab. Later that same year, Schumer announced that he had been successful in his push to reject the proposed cuts, and since has consistently delivered robust funding increases to the Lab and ICF program to make discoveries like today’s possible. The senator helped secure $75 million in FY2018, $80 million in FY2019 & FY2020, $82 million in FY2021, and $83 million in FY2022.

In addition, Schumer has been a leading advocate for increasing support for key programs that support Rochester’s Laser Lab like the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) program. The ICF program is critical to maintaining safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent maintained through the Stockpile Stewardship Program. This program establishes the United States as a leader in technology and attracts talented scientists, engineers, and students dedicated to achieving controlled fusion laboratory, which made the discovery today. Schumer just delivered the highest ever authorization ever of over $624 million in this year in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the program, which he says will supercharge discoveries like this even further,

Established in 1970, the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) is a unique and critical national resource for research and education in science and technology. LLE is the largest U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) university-based research program in the nation and is home to the OMEGA lasers (Omega and Omega EP) – two of the largest and most capable lasers at any academic institution in the world.  The LLE employs over 400 workers in Rochester and supports another 500 workers at optics, photonics, and imaging companies located throughout the Rochester Finger Lakes region.