Here’s an interesting piece from Time magazine:
The funny thing is that getting fusion isn’t really that hard. The Farnsworth Fusor which almost guarantees that you get some fusion neutrons isn’t that hard to fabricate.
Kids as young as 13 have built fusors and frankly I think that they are a good way to learn about vacuum, useful even if you don’t get useful energy out of your gadget. And they are cool.
I’ve posted before about fusion energy before. Especially about Robert Bussard’s polywell. Not perhaps as much as I should have. Especially about the polywell. I became interested in the polywell when I watched this talk from Robert Bussard back in 2007.
I posted this post about the polywell and how, for a while it was the lost child of the fusion energy community. The polywell was never lost, it’s just that the people working on it were kept under the radar because they were under a contract with the US Navy. I think that this was more to keep polywell off the radar more than anything else. I also think that the Navy thought that they could find the money to pay for full development and only let polywell go when the Navy people realized that there was no way that the money would be forthcoming and the things weren’t as simple as Dr. Bussard believed.
Here’s a stack of Polywell updates from Next Big Future
There’s a bunch of small companies and teams making fusion efforts. progress is being made:
Lockheed Martin has been working on this for some time now and it looks as if they have hardware.
This long post from Alfin has a good summary of the players and what they are doing. There are a lot of these people all trying different approaches.
Next Big Future has an update on the various players and what they are doing.
Back when I was working a Jefferson lab in the late 1990’s the head of Princeton Plasma Physics(The Tokamak people) came down and gave a presentation. In the question and answer session after the presentation I asked how long it would take to get to a reactor that had breakeven. The answer was fifty years. There reason is that it just wasn’t; possible to knowledge needed to make the Tokamak work without a huge program that would be, in essence a physics jobs program for a long time. For me that was a depressing answer and I, at that point wrote off the Tokamak as a viable energy alterantive. It seems that I was right about the jobs program part.
And ITER seems to be yet another fusion jobs program. A huge one.
It looks like, in spite of the absence of a viable Tokamak, that fusion may be coming soon as a viable energy source. I hope that this page of links and the overview gives a good look at just where the state of the art is in fusion energy.