Fusion-generated Electricity: Will It Finally Become a Reality?

Fusion-Generated Electricity: Will It Finally Become a Reality?Every month, many of us experience the joy of gritting teeth, shaking hands, and anticipation as we see that our monthly electrical bill has arrived. I know that, other than what we pay for our mortgage or rent, the monthly electrical bill can take more out of our income than any other bill. In some instances it can even determine if we have to make the choice to eat, purchase needed prescriptions, or keep the heat on. With this in mind, I am sure that many of us can’t help but wonder just how much higher the rates can go before we choose to let them shut off our lights and live by oil lamp. Sound far fetched to you? Believe me when I say it isn’t; eventually, those trying to make ends meet on a fixed income or paycheck will find it nearly impossible to stretch their disposable incomes to meet the current inflation rate. However, don’t be discouraged; there is some good news on the horizon.

This news is the result of researchers searching for a way to safely provide affordable energy. They spent decades looking for alternatives to our current sources of energy in hopes that had been hinged on either fossil fuels or nuclear energy. What they knew was that neither of these fuels were the best alternative. In fact, the use of nuclear power plants have become a real concern and many people fear their potential to leak radioactive materials. In addition, people question what is being done with the radioactive fuel generated by these plants since the spent fuel remains radioactive for hundreds of years.

However, burning fossil fuels such as coal pollutes the atmosphere and, many claim, contributes to what is being called global warming.

With this in mind, researchers are looking to a future where a new source of energy by way of fusion — the opposite of the fission that takes place in current nuclear power plants — may provide us with clean and less polluting energy. This new technology works by taking two small particles and then heating these particles to extremely high temperatures, which results in them bonding together. As the result of this fusing of particles, energy is released. Researchers assure us that this process is safe and, if something were to go wrong during the fusion process, the process would stop automatically with no human intervention.

These same researchers also tell us that the problem of waste disposal would take a backseat since a fusion plant would only produce a small fraction of the material that is currently being pumped out by nuclear power plants. This means that the disposal and storage costs of fusion vs. fisson waste could potentially save electrical companies millions of dollars which, given the trickle-down effect, should be passed down to the consumer. Another plus of this type of plant is seen in its effects on the environment. Apparently, the waste from a fusion plant will dissipate in a mere 50 to 100 years vs. the estimated time of hundreds of years for fisson plant waste to dissipate. Though this in itself is not an ideal solution, it is a step forward in our efforts to clean up and maintain the environment.

So why hasn’t fusion technology been put to use in more areas? According to some researchers, funding for fusion has been cut every year, which poses a problem for the advancement of fusion as an energy source. However, the scientific community has used the funds that have been granted to make great strides in the development of thermal containment, which is essential to controlling the fusion process. However, some rather daunting problems remain. The major one revolves around controlling the heat produced in the fusion process since it can create temperatures that are hotter than the sun. That means that researchers still need to discover a means to cool the particles before fusion can be used as a reliable energy source.

Considering the remaining obstacles, one must wonder if fusion will even be a viable source for energy, or if these scientists are mainly looking for more funding to play with their own private experiments? I don’t really think so. I think that these scientists are dedicated to solving the fusion problem and, having made this their life goal, should be recognized for their efforts.

So this is the dilemma with which we find ourselves. Is it worth the effort and expense to continue the fusion project, or would you rather continue to grit your teeth every time you hold that outrageous electrical bill in your hand? What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source: PHYS ORG

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by mbambule

Article Written by

I have been writing for LockerGnome since relocating to Missouri seven years ago, where I continue to be a technology enthusiast who enjoys playing with the newest and latest gadgets.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000376707550 Brian Buckley

    Well, while i don’t have a lot to say about it today, I’ve always though that it would likely become a viable technology. However, it greatly increases the difficulty of finding viable ways to take advantage of it when the funding is constantly reduced. In my own opinion, once we reach a certain point in the research of a new technology it usually will become more costly over time (at least in terms of the time it will take to get to reach the same amount of economic and ecological impact) to cut the funding of research and in effect increase the amount of time needed to reach a determination, than it is to keep the research going with the same or greater funding. While greater funding could help test different ways of creating energy threw nuclear fusion, there still lies the possibility that we would not find a viable means of containing and using it.

  • Thebian

    I’ve seen fusion energy working in both Oxford University in the UK (they have a test fusion power station there) and in New Mexico in a military base in the US.

    France are currently building the worlds first commercial fusion power station in the south of the country, due to be finished next year (A Joint UK / France / EU funded project). I don’t see why more investment in research needs to be made, it’s already here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.shreve.94 Michael Shreve

    Fusion will be REQUIRED as a long term energy solution BECAUSE “green” energy is simple to limited to be applied to ALL our energy using systems.

  • lylejk

    I’ve been trying to keep up with Rossi’s E-CAT but it’s been so slow that I stopped over a year ago. Not sure if he’s not a charleton (or not), but I hope he’s not. :)

  • http://twitter.com/KodeSource Doug McFarlane

    Hmm . . . the part I don’t like is the part about saving millions and passing the savings onto the consumer. I see why they are pursuing this method, as it still lets them charge the consumer. Ha, you never hear about upcoming research about free energy solutions that you simply install at your home for a one time fee. Who in the corrupt business world would fund such research?

    Well, until I recently heard about the Keshe Foundation’s super low cost plasma technologies. Now that is a technology I can get excited about!