President Joe Biden's goal of commercial fusion power within 10 years is "a pipe dream," according to one expert.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm last month announced a "major scientific breakthrough" in the decades-long quest to harness fusion, the energy that powers the sun and stars.
If fusion eventually becomes commercial power, it would be endless and carbon free.
Charles Seife, a mathematician, science author and professor at New York University, wrote a 2008 book on the hyping of fusion power. He spoke to CBS' "60 Minutes" during a segment about the recent nuclear fusion.
"I don't want to diminish the fact that this is a real achievement. Ignition is a milestone that people have been trying to do for years," Seife told "60 Minutes." "I'm afraid that there are so many technical hurdles, even after this great achievement — that 10 years is a pipe dream.
"I have a running bet going that we're not going to have it by 2050."
Granholm last month announced that researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, for the first time, produced net energy gain, in which more energy was produced in a fusion reaction than was needed to ignite it.
Fusion is what a hydrogen bomb does, releasing energy by forcing atoms of hydrogen to fuse together. Harnessing the energy into something useful, however, has been impossible until now.
Granholm and other officials said the achievement will pave the way for advancements in national defense and the future of clean power.
"The president has a decade vision, to get to a commercial fusion reactor within 10 years," Granholm said, Bloomberg reported. "This shows that it can be done."
More than 30 private companies are designing various approaches to fusion power, and $3 billion in private money flowed into those companies in the past 13 months, CBS reported.
Livermore Director Kim Budil told CBS that with enough funding and dedication, commercial fusion power could be demonstrated in 20 years or so.
"It's one thing to believe — that the science is possible — that the conditions can be created. It's another to see it in action," Budil said. "And it really is a remarkable feeling after working for 60 years to get to this point to have taken that first flight."
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