Compact Nuclear Fusion Reactor Is "Very Likely to Work", Studies Suggest
Comment of the Day

October 06 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Compact Nuclear Fusion Reactor Is "Very Likely to Work", Studies Suggest

This article by Henry Fountain for the New York Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Scientists developing a compact version of a nuclear fusion reactor have shown in a series of research papers that it should work, renewing hopes that the long-elusive goal of mimicking the way the sun produces energy might be achieved and eventually contribute to the fight against climate change.

Construction of a reactor, called Sparc, which is being developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a spinoff company, Commonwealth Fusion Systems, is expected to begin next spring and take three or four years, the researchers and company officials said.

Although many significant challenges remain, the company said construction would be followed by testing and, if successful, building of a power plant that could use fusion energy to generate electricity, beginning in the next decade.

Eoin Treacy's view

It’s impossible to know whether the SPARC design will work but a couple of points are worth considering. The first is they are holding to their estimate of having a prototype up and running by 2024. That at least is a positive. The second is the team behind the project only set the company up because they lost their funding at the old MIT tokomak project. Academics have no incentive to set or exceed deadlines. Commercial enterprises do.

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