Future lies with fusion – Co-written with David Hollein, Sr. of Barrington Hills, Illinois

April 18, 2009

Recently President Obama curtailed the growth of the nuclear energy industry by refusing to continue funding for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage site in Nevada.  This has left more than 100 U.S. reactors without a place to send their spent nuclear fuel.
 
Obama’s Yucca Mountain decision highlights the need for extensive research into the development of nuclear fusion.
 
Fission is what we have now.  The process requires an element that can be easily split in a particle accelerator, such as uranium or plutonium, while fusion uses isotopes of hydrogen atoms, specifically deuterium and tritium, obtained from ordinary water. 
 
Nuclear fusion has far more potential for long term future use than the fission reactors now in service.   Uranium-235 used in nuclear fission is a non-renewable resource that will eventually run out, much like fossil fuels, whereby deuterium and tritium provide a virtually unlimited supply of fuel for fusion reactors. 
 
Other advantages of fusion over fission include:  1) The potential energy release of fusion is three to four times greater than the energy released by fission — more bang for the buck!  The trick is to contain the heat without melting the container.  2)  Fusion produces only low levels of short lived radiation, decaying almost completely within 100 years.  Fission remains highly radioactive for thousands of years.
 
Nuclear fusion is not a new idea.  It has been around since the 1950’s.  Fusion was discussed, not just briefly mentioned, since May of 1978 during my many presentations, conferences, and meetings in the USA, Europe, and Asia with utility companies, corporation, universities, schools, to civic organizations and to the general public. 
 
MIT is carrying out promising research with its fusion reactor.  This has not stopped “fusion gypsies” — scientists who have travelled the world living the dream that some day, somewhere they can create their dream — from meeting this summer in the wooded hills of Provence in Southern France to begin construction of the world’s biggest ever nuclear fusion reactor.
 
Argonne and Fermi Labs are located right here in Illinois.  Scientists working at the labs know what I am talking about, yet where are the media reports to suggest that they have jumped on the nuclear fusion band wagon? 
 
Why not?  The future belongs to nuclear fusion.   It isn’t like Argonne and Fermi to be left behind. 
 

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