The Top Ten Things You Should Know About Fusion
I did a short 20-minute presentation to a group in Pittsburgh. We decided to record the audio from the talk and turn it into a YouTube film. This short presentation is mostly for folks new to fusion, but it has some good information. Below are the top ten things you should know about nuclear fusion.
We have Been Doing It For Years. We discovered fusion in 1933 and we did it using a H-bomb in 1952, but the first fusion machine was Scyalla-1 in 1958.
We Know How To Make It Work. John Lawson applied an energy balance across a plasma-base fusion power plant and developed key metrics for what it takes to make fusion power real.
You Can Do Fusion At Home. Fusors are great ways to get into this space for anyone who is interested. The tools for fusors are cheap and available online.
The US Really Funded Fusion For about 15 years. The US really pushed fusion from the 70’s oil crisis, but made major cuts to the budget in the middle of the eighties. Magnetic mirrors rose and fell with this funding.
There Is More Than One Method. Yes, you have heard of the tokamak - but there are lots of good ideas out there that have not been funded by the federal government.
Fusion Startups Are Real. This space is heating up. We are likely over ~1.5 billion now (Spring 2019) and we probably have staffing of ~500 folks spread across ~15+ organizations. Yes, there are some bad ideas out there, but this activity is exciting. Please, no hoaxes.
We Need A Pipeline. The US government needs to fund fusion the same way we fund bio-tech. We need tiers of ideas, where small groups get a couple of a million a year, middle groups get 8 to 10 million and major groups get 100 to 150 million. Teams need to be able to move up or down the pipeline, based on a proximity to the power plant.
China Is Taking An Interest. On both the private and public side, China is taking a serious interest in this technology. China has INEST; a public office of advanced fusion-fission research. The closest thing the US has is GAIN - a new program from the DOE to support advanced fission. The Chinese O&G company ENN has hired a staff of 30 people and put 10 million behind a fusion approach.
Superconductors Are Game Changers. The US seems to not understand the impact that superconductors are going to have on fusion. We’re talking a 100X increase in field strength and a 1E+6X increase in run time. This effect is significantly amplified because fusion rate scales as the 4th power of field strength.
Climate Change Is Not Waiting. No. It is not waiting on any of this. If we want to stave off the worst aspects of climate change, we need to move on fusion, now.