Cheap, practical fusion may be closer than you think.
Nuclear fusion is 30 years away, and always will be. That’s the refrain we’ve heard, again and again for decades.
But this is a story that few have noticed. Unlike computers, fusion has to get really great before it’s useful at all. Right now it’s pretty good, but not quite good enough. It’s getting close though.
There’s another reason the story’s been missed. We’ve spent billions on enormous, horribly complex fusion reactors that aren’t expected to be commercially available before 2050…and even then, it’s hard to see how they wouldn’t be too expensive.
But those are not the only game in town. The real overlooked story is this: a handful of small research projects, often running on a shoestring, ready to beat the big projects at their own game. Some of these little projects have attracted serious investment, from venture capitalists and Goldman Sachs.
And not a moment too soon, with CO2 levels already at 400ppm, and no significant emission cuts in sight. The clock’s running out. We need something dramatic.
If we may be permitted a football analogy: We’re five points behind, there’s half a minute left in the game, we’re a long way from the endzone, and we’re not going to get there in time by playing it safe. We need a long pass. We might not win, but it’s the one play that gives us a chance.
Or in gambling terms…it’s worth drawing to an inside straight when there’s enough money in the pot.
The fusion projects listed here give us a shot at power competitive with fossil fuels or (in some cases) far cheaper, with no pollution, perfect safety, and no nuclear waste. Sound too good to be true? Read on. Find out what these projects are, and how we can use better funding mechanisms to improve our odds.
The Latest on: Fusion Reactor
- China starts building key support facility for fusion test reactor on December 16, 2018 at 7:02 pm
The construction of a key facility to support the China Fusion Engineering Test Reactor (CFETR) started Friday in Hefei, capital of east China's Anhui Province. The new facility will serve as a test p... […]
- Developing New Materials for the Fusion Reactor on December 14, 2018 at 7:55 pm
In the future fusion reactor, plasma is confined by using the magnetic field inside the doughnut-shaped vacuum vessel. The blanket is in a location where it almost touches the plasma, and as if to enf... […]
- Taming Turbulence to Make Complex Simulations a Breeze on December 14, 2018 at 1:09 pm
For scientists wrestling with problems as diverse as containing superhot plasma in a fusion reactor, improving the accuracy of weather forecasts, or probing the unexplained dynamics of a distant galax... […]
- Experts Urge U.S. to Continue Support for Nuclear Fusion Research on December 14, 2018 at 10:29 am
“Now is the right time for the U.S. to benefit from the investments in burning plasma research and take leadership in fusion energy.” The success of a reactor that can produce electricity from nuclear ... […]
- Experts: U.S. should boost fusion research by $200 million a year on December 14, 2018 at 8:42 am
The ITER project was launched well over a decade ago and is a multinational partnership between the European Union, the United States, China, Russia, Japan, India, and South Korea to build a prototype ... […]
- Construction of key fusion reactor facilities begins in Anhui on December 14, 2018 at 1:31 am
The photo shows the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) in Hefei, East China's Anhui province, which is dubbed as "artificial sun", Aug 16, 2018. [Photo/IC] China aims at leading the ... […]
- United States should prepare to build a prototype fusion power plant, panel says on December 13, 2018 at 4:05 pm
The United States should stick with the controversial ITER project, a hugely expensive fusion reactor now under construction near Cadarache in France, says a report released today by the National Acad... […]
- Drawn into a Whirlpool: A New Way to Stop Dangerous Fast Electrons in a Fusion Device on December 12, 2018 at 12:19 pm
These electrons can escape and melt “hot spots” in the wall. In addition to avoidance strategies, the scientists that operate future fusion reactors need mitigation strategies to reduce the damage. A ... […]
- Taming turbulence: Seeking to make complex simulations a breeze on December 11, 2018 at 12:47 pm
Credit: NASA, ESA, THE HUBBLE HERITAGE TEAM (STSCI/AURA) For scientists wrestling with problems as diverse as containing superhot plasma in a fusion reactor, improving the accuracy of weather ... […]
- Helical-Type Fusion Reactor and Its Structure (image) on December 7, 2018 at 6:21 am
The blanket is colored in orange, and the combined weight of the reactor exceeds 1,000 tons. The blanket collects the high-speed particles that have emerged from the plasma in the fusion reaction and ... […]
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