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Breakthrough on Nuclear Fusion

by James Burgess, Oil Price:

Scientists made a major breakthrough in the quest for the ultimate energy source: fusion. Reports from the National Ignition Facility (NIF) indicate that scientists generated more power out than was put in, a long sought after goal for the development of fusion. The NIF uses giant lasers to shoot a fuel pellet made up of hydrogen. Unlike conventional nuclear power that uses energy from splitting atoms, fusion energy forces atoms to fuse together, with energy as a byproduct.

Fusion energy has been seen as the Holy Grail for energy. It theoretically could provide the world with endless amounts of clean baseload energy. The fuel source – hydrogen isotopes – would be limitless and available to all countries. It would not have the long-lived radioactive byproducts that nuclear fission experiences. And there is a negligible chance of a meltdown issue, as there isn’t a runaway chain reaction like with fission.

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4 comments to Breakthrough on Nuclear Fusion

  • Ed_B

    “Fusion scientists and engineers are confident they can build a practical power plant sometime in the future, but the economics are highly uncertain.”

    Those economics would become a lot more attractive if the world were to run dangerously short of fossil fuels. Alternative energy sources are an important part of the energy matrix but they all suffer from the same problems. Those problems arrive in the form of low energy density and inconsistent availability. Human civilization not only needs a great deal of electrical power, it also needs it “on demand”, not just when the sun is shining or the wind blowing. Nature doesn’t always cooperate with us in that regard. To understand how important this is, just imagine that you are having a complicated surgical procedure and… all the lights go out… or, you are in heavy rush-hour traffic and… all the street and traffic control lights go out. Oops.

    “One of the main obstacles to future progress will be budget constraints, although after years of suffering budget cuts, Congress increased the fusion 2014 budget by $100 million.”

    Fusion power should be a MUCH higher priority for the US, EU, and Asian countries. This IS the future of humanity. If we were to fund fusion power research with the same enthusiasm with which we fund war, we would already have it! Safe, clean, cheap, and abundant power is what powers the world economy. If fusion power were developed today, there would not be all this fuss over dirty oil or coal. Economic activity would boom with cheaper and abundant energy, so, MANY new good-paying jobs would be created. The development of commercially viable fusion power will be a step up for humanity that will be similar to that of the steam engine, the printing press, and the Internet all rolled up in one. It can, should, and MUST be funded and staffed to the greatest extent possible. This is technology that we need ASAP, not 100+ years from now.

    • Rodster

      Good points, in fact Michael Ruppert made the case that human civilization exploded during the industrial revolution when fossil fuel became available. He also made the point that humanity will depopulate if you take oil away from the system. We are too dependent on fossile fuels and there currently are no subsitutes in large quantities.

      • jonathan

        Rodster I fell for it too but peak oil is complete bullshit. Do you know how quickly they figure out how to build a nuclear bomb with only one hundred thousand people working on it? Biodiesel from hemp can easily replace fossil fuels in cars especially when we are constantly increasing efficiency.

    • jonathan

      Ed B what about the electrical grid wasting half the energy in transit when you localize power production you save that energy on top of that we have products that consume less energy. Sustainable technology is increasing rapidly. Fifteen years ago American car companies refused to build efficient cars because Americans wanted gas guzzlers we haven’t even begun to get an efficient society going. We need a fraction of the energy we consume today with the technology mankind will be bringing to the market.

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