Fusion Electricity in Our Lifetimes - Yes, We Can! by Fusion Advocates
The time has come to prove that fusion energy can provide net electricity. MIT has that capability to do that better than anywhere else
With growth in electricity generation plants demand which I am certain will be greater than that forecast by IEA and IPCC, the requirement for clean, cheap, safe and unlimited baseload electricity can only be met by fusion. A program can and should be generated at MIT to go well beyond what is now being done at ITER and other places to prove that net electricity can be made from fusion. The program should build a pilot scale power plant by integration of cutting-edge techniques in technologies already known:
- spherical or low aspect ratio conventional tokamak,
- super-conducting magnetics,
- liquid first wall,
- tritium breeding, storage and separation,
- high-temperature heat exchangers,
- high performance electricity generation systems,
- even grid performance improvements.
Financing of this should come from the private sector, and will - at first glance - require some seven-eight years and some $7-8 billion. MIT Alumni should be able to generate this level of investment.
What actions do you propose?
MIT, together with its thousands of alumni, has a unique combination of skills found nowhere else in the world - the Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC), the Lab for Nuclear Science (LNS - Bates Lab.), the Dept. of Electrical Engineering, the Laboratory on High Performance Materials, the MITei and even the Sloan School! - to carry out this enormous undertaking.
It will take the courage to say "We scientists and engineers, who have been living and working using taxpayers' resources, have a social and moral obligation to put together these maturing technologies to save the world as well as we can." We cannot wait for perfection - if Columbus waited for GPS we would not be here! - we must build a proof-of-concept facility, even if the economic gain is low but positive (Q(eng) = 1.1 is good enough). In the MIT alumni pool there MUST be a potential leader for such a project - I am not that person but would be very pleased to assist anyone willing to take on the leadership, on a world scale.
The US was once the world leader in fusion energy development; it has now fallen terribly behind China, South Korea, Japan and Europe.