The bright light of fusion might burn away climate doomsters’ fears

Summary: News from the frontiers of science, where the future is being built and the predictions of doomsters will be defeated. Also, see the last section: why has fusion always been 30 years away? And naming the people responsible for this failure.

“We think we have the science, speed and scale to put carbon-free fusion power on the grid in 15 years.”
— Robert Mumgaard, CEO of Commonwealth Fusion Systems (PhD in Nuclear Physics, MIT). Source: The Guardian, March 2018.

Bright explosion - dreamstime 6531619
© Arbi Babakhanaians | Dreamstime.

One of the great oddities of our time is the widespread belief that our CO2 emissions will destroy the Earth in the 21st century. The thin foundation for these stories is the IPCC’s worst-case scenario, RCP8.5 (often misrepresented as a “business as usual scenario”). In this we burn off most of the Earth’s available oil – then turn to an alternative. In RCP8.5 the fuel of the future is the fuel of the 19th century – coal. The result would be catastrophic. It’s also unlikely, and widespread belief it is probability is stunning achievement of modern propaganda.

In the real world, the technology of energy generation and use advances rapidly. Although nuclear power is dying as an industry (destroyed by incompetence), solar tech is taking a growing share of the electric generation market. Steady improvements suggest that it has a big future (although less than dreamers believe).

To see how quickly tech can advance, a decade ago electric cars were considered a technology for the distant future. A 2009 report by the National Academies of Science said that even plug-in hybrids “are unlikely to have much impact before 2030.” We have already leaped over that stage, with many of the world’s major car companies now offering all-electric cars (~1% of the market) – and the others rolling them out in the next five years. The report did not even mention them.

Similar surprises, perhaps even bigger, might lie ahead from research on the far frontiers of science. Such as potential for power from low-energy nuclear reactions. As usual in US history, government funding leads the way. As usual since WWII, the most advanced research is done by the military. Such research, known to the public by the misleading term “cold fusion”, dates back a century. Wikipedia has its usual good summary (with supporting links). The era of serious research began roughly a decade ago, and became “official” in 2009 with an eight-page report by the Defense Intelligence Agency: “Technology Forecast: Worldwide Research on Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions Increasing and Gaining Acceptance.” An excerpt…

“Scientists worldwide have been quietly investigating low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR) for the past 20 years. Researchers in this controversial field are now claiming paradigm-shifting results, including generation of large amounts of excess heat, nuclear activity and transmutation of elements. Although no current theory exists to explain all the reported phenomena, some scientists now believe quantum-level nuclear reactions may be occurring. DIA assesses with high confidence that if LENR can produce nuclear-origin energy at room temperatures, this disruptive technology could revolutionize energy production and storage, since nuclear reactions release millions of times more energy per unit mass than do any known chemical fuel. …

“In 1989, Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons announced that their electrochemical experiments had produced excess energy under standard temperature and pressure conditions. Because they could not explain this physical phenomenon based on known chemical reactions, they suggested the excess heat could be nuclear in origin. However, their experiments did not show the radiation or radioactivity expected from a nuclear reaction. Many researchers attempted to replicate the results and failed, As a result, the physics community disparaged their work as lacking credibility, and the press mistakenly dubbed it “cold fusion.” Related research also suffered from the negative publicity of cold fusion for the past 20 years, but many scientists believed something important was occurring and continued their research with little or no visibility. For years, scientists were intrigued by the possibility of producing large amounts of clean energy through LENR, and now this research has begun to be accepted in the scientific community as reproducible and legitimate.”

For more detail see this at Scientific American’s blog: “It’s Not Cold Fusion. But It’s Something” by Steven B. Krivit and Michael J. Ravnitzky (December 2016). In the September 2018 issue of the U.S. Naval Institute’s journal Proceedings, Ravnitzky gives a brief history of LENR research (back to 1912) and describes the Navy’s research on LENR: “This Is Not ‘Cold Fusion’” (ungated copy here).  Two companies working in the field are …

Although LENR is exciting, fusion is the mainstream of next-gen energy R&D. Fusion tech has achieved a breakthrough in the past decade.

The private sector sees profits in fusion power

The US government fusion program was funded since 1976 at levels far below that required to deliver results at at some indefinite date (“far out in time”; see the last section below). But decades of work have brought fusion to an important milestone. The growing interest of private investors – especially professional venture capitalists – marks the start of a new phase in the development of fusion power. These are smart business people expecting results soon, and putting money on the table. This is an update of a list that I have shown before.

One mega-corp is investing in fusion: Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works began building a compact fusion system in 2010. See their website and the Wikipedia entry. From their October 2014 press release …

“{Lockheed} is working on a new compact fusion reactor (CFR) that can be developed and deployed in as little as ten years. …The smaller size will allow us to design, build and test the CFR in less than a year. After completing several of these design-build-test cycles, the team anticipates being able to produce a prototype in five years.”

Most of these companies issue exciting press releases and videos about breakthroughs and timetables. Most are falling behind on their initial promises. The sums spent are small, as such things go. But most new evolves slowly at first. We can only guess at what they might accomplish in the next decade.

This is one facet of a large story, one of the biggest of our era: a new industrial revolution has begun!

Great things come from small beginnings. See Niagara Falls in 1904, with little factories tapping some of its power.

Niagara Falls in 1904

Here is the “Z Machine” of Sandia National Laboratory. It could provide fusion energy for the future. See Science, Nov 2016.

Sandia - z_machine
By Randy Montoya.

For More Information

Another often-told story about natural resources is about the replacement of whale oil by petroleum. The reality was much more complex, with no obvious lessons for us. See an analysis by Bill Kovarik, Professor of Communication at Radford University; also see the discussion in the comments.

Ideas! For shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information see The keys to understanding climate change, all posts about nuclear power, and especially these about the threats to our world…

  1. Is our certain fate a coal-burning climate apocalypse? No!
  2. About a past prediction of certain doom: Hopeful news for us from the Horse Manure Crisis of 1894.
  3. About a more recent prediction: Peak Oil Doomsters debunked, end of civilization called off.
  4. Collapsitarians and their doomster porn.
  5. We love scary stories. The reason why reveals a secret about America.
  6. Banish the doomsters. Make Earth Day a celebration!

Why has fusion always been 30 years away?

There have been countless articles like this by Nathaniel Scharping in Discover March 2016, asking “Why Nuclear Fusion Is Always 30 Years Away.” Sometimes other numbers are given, such as “Forever 20 years away: will we ever have a working nuclear fusion reactor?” in the November 2014 New Statesman. Oddly, these seldom quote people in 20 or 30 years ago making such predictions.

But there is a deeper reason why fusion scientists disappointed us: we did not give them the money they said they needed to deliver in 20 or 30 years. See this graph (click to enlarge) from the peak enthusiasm days of fusion. It is from page 12 of “Fusion Power by Magnetic Confinement: Program Plan“, a report by the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration (1976), updated to show 2012 dollars. We did not even provide the funding required to deliver future at some indefinite date (“far out in time”). We got what we paid for.

Paths to fusion - by funding

51 thoughts on “The bright light of fusion might burn away climate doomsters’ fears

  1. As usual with discussions of fusion, people make grandiose predictions unsupported by facts. This has been the pattern back to my first posts about fusion in 2008. Such as this comment about the Polywell, by a well-known amateur expert.

    “With a crash program 24/7 365 we could have a power producing reactor in 3 to 4 years and series production in 6 to 10 years. ”

    EMC2 — developer of the Polywell — reportedly lost its Navy funding (2015?) after results from the WB-8 were less than expected. It was unable to find new money, and limps along as little more than a shell.

    1. Your grandoise pessimism striles me as unsupported by facts. That a project failed for lack of adequate funding is not evidence that it would have failed with adequate funding. Too many cooks in the kitchen.

    2. Johann,

      (1) “Your grandoise pessimism striles me as unsupported by facts.”

      Incorrect. I was not “pessimistic.” I stated the simple facts, without interpretation.

      “EMC2 — developer of the Polywell — reportedly lost its Navy funding (2015?) after results from the WB-8 were less than expected. It was unable to find new money, and limps along as little more than a shell.”

      (2) “That a project failed for lack of adequate funding”

      First, why the Polywell failed is irrelevant to my comment. Second, your comment is a example of the “grandiose predictions unsupported by facts” I refer to. We don’t know – because it is not possible to know now — if more funding would have made the Polywell successful.

      (3) “Too many cooks in the kitchen.”

      More confident guessing.

  2. I’ll wait until it happens. In science the hype often doesn’t pan out.

    Remember all the hype about buckminsterfullerenes?

    The male birth control pill has been just around the corner for the last 30 years.

    Getting drugs and proteins by “Pharming”.

    Phage treatments for infections.

    Stem cells cure everything.

    Etc.

    1. Sven,

      “In science the hype often doesn’t pan out.”

      That’s just good sense. But I don’t believe you got the point of this post (that’s my fault, as the author). I’ve tweaked it to make it more clear.

      “hype about buckminsterfullerenes?”

      How many companies — esp backed by VCs — were formed to commercialize them?

      “The male birth control pill has been just around the corner for the last 30 years.”

      That’s a category error. You refer to people spouting hot air. I don’t believe the male pill has even reached the level of phase one trials, the first (and least expensive) step in drug testing. In contrast, fusion research — even by private sector companies — is far beyond that. Serious money is being spent.

      “Phage treatments for infections. Stem cells cure everything.”

      Ditto. Category errors. It matters how much is ventured, not how bold the hot air.

    2. Johann,

      “Competition stunts progress.”

      Pretty much every economist, ever, disagrees with you. So does history.

  3. I don’t know whether fusion, and particularly whether cold fusion, will deliver the hopes. But agreed that the key to the problem is new sources of energy. We should be putting all the money we are wasting on wind and solar subsidies into research on that.

    Agreed also that the existence of your listed private enterprise efforts to commercialize is eoncouraging. They wouldn’t be betting if they didn’t see something real there.

    But…. it still looks like a long shot from here. Mainly because the underlying science does not seem to show a clear path to a large enough effect. Or in the case of conventional fusion, it doesn’t seem to show a cost effective way of generating net power. Its interesting that the Lockheed program dates from some years ago. I saw it at the time and have wondered how it was going, if it still is. Is there anything more recent on it?

    Yes, we could indeed be just at the point of takeoff. I would certainly like to believe it. But the evidence is a bit sketchy.

    You could say, it always is at this point in the cycle. And yes, that’s a fair point.

    I think China and the other developing countries are going to burn an awful lot more coal before we get to the fusion revolution, if we ever do. I don’t think it will much affect the climate, but it will make a total mockery of Paris and Western efforts to restrain emissions.

    1. George,

      (1) “Mainly because the underlying science does not seem to show a clear path to a large enough effect. Or in the case of conventional fusion, it doesn’t seem to show a cost effective way of generating net power.”

      I doubt that you have the technical expertise to make that evaluation, let alone consider that your’s is better than that of the experts in the field.

      (2) “Is there anything more recent on it?”

      Twenty second on Google answers your question. A few sources:

      Lockheed’s first patent on it, granted May 2018.

      Video of a Colloquim on August 2015 at Princeton on the The Lockheed Martin Compact Fusion Reactor.

      An Analysis of Lockheed-Martins’ Fusion Effort” by Matthew J Moynihan, December 2016. Highly technical, many references.

      Lockheed Martin Release New Details About Compact Fusion Reactor” by Ken Ecott at NowScience, 9 July 2017.

      (3) “But the evidence is a bit sketchy.”

      I assume you’re kidding. Big money private R&D is usually closely held, for an obvious reason.

      (4) “I don’t think it will much affect the climate”

      I doubt that many climate scientists agree with you.

    1. They’re raised in excess of $180 of investment if I’m correct… and these aren’t dupes (some are rumoured to be CIA, others are Wall Street such as Morgan Stanley, ex ceo’s of large cooperation, Westinghouse)… the former head of CIA James Woolsey is the newest advisory board member.
      In terms of validation, I beleive it’s validated a number of times (kind of outside sources, Rowan University for example), Mills work is free for anyone around the world to validate…

      It is an extremely interesting story whether you beleive or not…
      I honestly recommend reading into it as much as possible… I’m convinced he’s right, and you have to remember
      a) he has a business and patents to protect (he’s a scientist but is in it for the money!)
      b) a number of institutions from acedemics to energy industry stand to lose BIG TIME if he’s right! (these are powerful institutions!)

      Brilliant article though, with many links I’ll be sure to investigate further.

    2. Danny,

      “They’re raised in excess of $180 of investment if I’m correct”

      The SEC filing says, as I said, $18 million (I gave the link).

      “some are rumoured to be CIA, others are Wall Street such as Morgan Stanley, ex ceo’s of large cooperation, Westinghouse)”

      Do you have any supporting sources for that? I see unsourced articles — such as this in the now defunct Village Voice from 1999 — making claims, probably just repeating what the company told them. That article also said …

      “Conectiv senior vice president David Blake concurs: “We’re past the scientific verification stage. The talk now is about commercial applications,” perhaps within seven years, he says.”

      Nineteen years later – nothing. The article also said…

      “Mills has stacks of proprietary research on artificial intelligence. In what he calls Brain Child Systems, Mills has done the math for a reasoning machine with consciousness. To advance the project, Mills may soon enter into a collaboration with the Institute for Simulation and Training at the University of Central Florida, which does the bulk of its work for the military.”

      Nineteen years later, nothing. In it Mills confidently predicted…

      “I’ll have demonstrated an entirely new form of energy production by the end of 2000,”

      He’s 18 years behind schedule. Mills made even bigger claims.

      “If spaceships are to hit such speeds, NASA scientists agree that rockets are a dead end. Mills says the answer may again lie in the electron, which according to his theory might be made to respond negatively to gravity. He quickly emphasizes that this part of his work awaits experimentation, and he has kept quiet about it so far because he’s quite aware of how his critics will ridicule it. Mills is uncharacteristically coy in referring to the antigravity machine as a “relativity device.””

      They have claimed power delivery contracts with several firms, but I see no follow-ups. Such as this ten years ago with the very very tiny Estacado Energy Services.

      In 2009 they claimed that they would have continuous run prototypes in 2010 (a delay from their previous claims of a commercial system in 2009). Eight years after that deadline, nothing.

      What they have generated is a stream of press releases. Grandiose announcements, especially fun when read five or ten years later.

      I have no idea about the nature of this company. However, it has many of the classic signs of bad investment.

  4. Sorry Larry, I missed your point. Yes, these people would not be dumping this amount of money if it wasn’t possible and in the VC time frame.

    Oh I am excited that we will have fusion before I die. Great piece.

    1. I don’t think VCs risk much of their own money betting on “green” technologies like fusion – they get the money from the same place Elon Musk gets it: the taxpayer.

      Tokomaks have been around for close to 40 years, haven’t they? Finally, scientists are giving up on that mode of generating fusion?

      Color me extremely skeptical about fusion since I’ve been reading about it for decades and have seen no results. About every ten years, like clockwork, we’re told it’s just around the corner. Most of the companies on that list about have been around for more than 10 years and one more than 20. It must be great to get money not to produce a product other than “milestones” haha.

    2. PRCD,

      “They {VCs} get the money from the same place Elon Musk gets it: the taxpayer.”

      That’s totally false. VCs invest their own money and those of investors in their funds. They get very little money from “taxpayers.”

    3. Ah yes, VCs. Like the ones that placed sage bets on companies like Theranos and Juicero. Definitely no hot air when there’s venture capital on the table.

    4. Cobaka,

      Do you mock pro baseball players when they strike out? After all, the best of them tend to hit only 40% of the time.

      Investing is a business of numbers. Most investments lose money. Some break even. A few hits generate the profits. It’s not like buying CDs.

    5. No, I only mock silly adults who have read too many Pop Sci magazines. Can’t wait til we have the hyperloop in a few years too. There’s hundreds of millions of dollars on the table, no hot air.

    6. Why is that defense of your silly statement about VCs? Your comment isn’t even relevant to it.

      Massive fortunes have been made and industries built with VC money. Pointing to some of their losses shows that you don’t appear to understand the basics of how that is done.

  5. I am very glad to hear all these updates. I suspect we can run a reasonably prosperous world on renewable power with only a little mineral/fossil to fill the gap, but with fusion we can build O’Neill cylinders and spread out through the solar system.

    Past that is more ambitious, of course.

    1. SF,

      I am skeptical that we can run a world with developed nation levels of income on renewable power. The reports making such claims rely on a lot of hand-waving. But renewables plus nuclear and widespread electrification of transportation could greatly reduce use of fossil fuels. Some would remain, however. Such as use in some environments (eg. extreme south and north) and applications (eg, aircraft).

      But nuclear is probably dead (mostly from incompetence), as I wrote about several months ago. And fusion is a hope, at least for any time horizon relevant to us. Hence the need for aggressively funded research. Which neither Left nor Right has any interest in. Which is the core problem, and a very serious one.

  6. Hot fusion has been 15 years away for the last 60 years. The hot fusion scientists lied to Congress that ITER would have a COP of 10 (Coefficient of Performance) when it is on;y 1.6 at best. It is extremely unlikely to ever be an economic solution. Atleast it will provide lifetime employment for hundreds of scientitists and engineers.

    Iy’s possible\le so me private company like Lockheed have a solution but I have not been following them,so don’t know

    Fleischmann and Pons were shot down by CalTech and MIT who failed to replicate their experiment because they didn’t understand the level of Deuterium loading of the Palladium that was required and were in a hurry. They set back LENR research at least a decade. F & P have been replicated some 100 times since.

    DOE know about this as I shepherded a letter through the Director of the Office of Science to the Secretary of DOE, where it reached his “red folder.” I never got a reply. DOE’s attitude is shown by the story of a senior scientist being offered a peer reviewed paper om :LENR, who let it fall to the floor rather touch it.

    The Two known front runners in LENR ae Dr. Andrea Rossi’s SK reactor and BLP’s SunCell.

    Rossi has just settled on the 10 kW SK for mass prodcution and has tarted obulding the factory for production starting in Jan 2019. (I thinlkslghyly opti,istic,) If the factory is built my confidence level will increase as it is unlikely any investor would spend so muchmoney without being sure theproduct works. He intends to sell heat and has a customer who wants 40 MW. Selling metered heat reduces the risk to thecustomer and protects his IP.

    ou can read about BLP’s SunCell at their site. https://brilliantlightpower.com
    There are several videos showing it in action.

    I wi;; ne surprised if at least one of the above does not surface next year.

    Adrian Ashfield

    1. Adrian,

      “Hot fusion has been 15 years away for the last 60 years.”

      I’d like to see a quote saying that from a major expert, esp from 1958. The consensus back then was that it not possible in the foreseeable future. The usual predictions since the 1970s were for 30 – 50 years away. A few, usually boosters (not scientists working on fusion) said 20 years. Only recently have predictions of 15 years appeared, along with private sector funding.

      “The hot fusion scientists lied to Congress that ITER would have a COP of 10 (Coefficient of Performance) ”

      Do you understand why this is called “research”?

      “The Two known front runners in LENR ae Dr. Andrea Rossi’s SK reactor and BLP’s SunCell.”

      The first of those is (to be generous) controversial. The second has many of the classic signs of being a scam. See my reply to Danny on this thread.

      “I will be surprised if at least one of the above does not surface next year.”

      I am pretty sure that you will be surprised.

    2. Let us not lump ‘Fusion’ energy tech (strong force) with ‘LENR’ energy tech (weak force). Although all atomic energy research does fall under the same over-arching umbrella… The Atom.

    3. gbgobe,

      That’s an important point, but too technical for a general audience. Which is why LENR is lumped together with fusion by the news media. If LENR becomes commercial, people will learn the difference.

  7. I’ll quibble with one thing only. Fusion power might banish climate doomsters’ RATIONAL fears. The doom industry has shown some ability to adapt to changing market conditions, and it is, like the telemarketing industry, persistent. And they know they should always be closing. Fusion produces heat, don’t you know. And heat heats the atmosphere.

    Seriously, I’ve no idea what’s technically possible. But I have long been fascinated by this subject. thanks for the post.

    1. The Man,

      “The doom industry has shown some ability to adapt to changing market conditions”

      They do so by finding new fears to hype. Water and air pollution in the 1960s. Overpopulation in the 1970s (now falling populations are being explored as a new doom). There are always new fears.

      This only works because we have the memory of babies. Without our amnesia, we’d laugh at them — remembering all their false predictions.

      I’ve written about this quite a few times. I can post links if useful.

  8. I have been a huge fan of fusion energy for 40 years. Fusion has been 15 years away for all that time. I look forward to being a huge fan of fusion energy for another 40 years. What a pity it’ll be 15 years away all that time too. But at least it saves changing the typesetting.

    1. NB,

      “… for 40 years. Fusion has been 15 years away for all that time.”

      There are many articles documenting how fusion has been said to be 20 (more commonly 30) years away — since the 1970s. Can you point to some saying “15” years away from the 1970s – 1990s?

      “What a pity it’ll be 15 years away all that time too.”

      Where did you get your degree in nuclear physics?

  9. I think this graph may show part of why fusion has “always been ten years away.” {click on it for a larger version}

    {Ed: It is from “Fusion Power by Magnetic Confinement: Program Plan“, a report by the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration Report (1976). It is figure II-3, on page 12. It shows planned results for five funding levels.}

    There also may have been genuine bottlenecks or a need for other things (computers, material science) to advance to the point to support fusion power, or to support the research necessary to build it.

     

    Paths to fusion - by funding

    1. SF,

      Thank you for posting that link! I added the actual photo, plus a link to the report.

      “may show part of why fusion has ‘always been ten years away.’”

      That’s not quite right. Even the projection assuming maximum funding (an almost 20x increase) planned for a demonstration plant in 14 years — not ten. I’ve never seen a fusion scientist say that he expects a successful demonstration plant in ten years.

    2. @Larry: Thanks for editing it in. I can never remember how to embed images across different blog platforms. Too spoiled by places where it happens automagically.

    3. SF,

      I am extremely grateful for commenters like you who add such valuable information to the discussion! Adding the image and citation is just a way to get high-quality material the attention it deserves.

      I added a section at the end of the post based on the graph you cited.

  10. Excellent post Larry. This is a subject I’m not familiar with. All I know is what I read in Popular Science or Popular Mechanics.

    On Belmont Club, I have read mention if Thorium Reactors that are small enough to be portable.

    Do you or commenters have any data on Thorium Reactors?

  11. Larry Kummer, thank you for your reply. Sorry about the typos in my comment. Macular degeneration has left me almost blind.

    I wrote “Hot fusion has been 15 years away for the last 60 years.”
    You doubted both the total time ad the forecast time for success. I think you are being picky and U justify my numbers below..

    The tokamak was proposed in 1950 and built in 1956. Lots of hot fusion experiments were carried out in the 1950s. I can’t show you press forecasts because Google doesn’t apparently cover the press so far back.

    After 60 years, is nuclear fusion finally poised to deliver?
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/02/after-60-years-is-nuclear-fusion-finally-poised-to-deliver

    This MIT Project Says Nuclear Fusion Is 15 Years Away (No, Really, This Time)
    https://www.fastcompany.com/40541615/this-mit-project-says-nuclear-fusion-is-15-years-away-no-really-this-time

    Would it made any difference if I used a paragraph to exp[ain that different authoriyies used different numbers at different times? I don’t think so.

    “AA: The hot fusion scientists lied to Congress that ITER would have a COP of 10 (Coefficient of Performance) ”

    LK: “Do you understand why this is called “research”?”

    Yes I do. The scientists deliberately left out their own data guessing that Congress was not technical enough to catch it. See Krivit’s paper on the subject.

    AA: “The Two known front runners in LENR ae Dr. Andrea Rossi’s SK reactor and BLP’s SunCell.”

    SK: “The first of those is (to be generous) controversial. The second has many of the classic signs of being a scam. See my reply to Danny on this thread”

    The highly regarded Prof Focardi devised the calorimetry and measured the excess heat from the early E-Cats. Prof Levi measured >35 kW of excess heat using water not steam, well above any experimental error. The performance of the 1 MW plant at Doral is unclear, but remember Rossi took IH to court for $90 million owed him according to the contract (that they didn’t have) and IH persuaded Woodard Invetments to give them $49 million based on the plant.

    I thinl you are being grossly unfair about Mills. He has develped a new Universal Theory derived from Maxwell’s equatiobs. One of the few pieces of new physics over the last 30 years. It was used to develop his software that forecasts the poitions of atoms in a molecule. He has discovered a number os new effects that produce anomalous heat, but been slow to get them to the market.
    The performance od the SunCell has been verified by severak independent specialists and looks to be on its way to being commercial. He certainly has not soent $180 million on it.. (or $180 as you stated.)

    ITER alone hwill cost $25 BILLION, and 60 yers so far.. Are they scammers?
    “Do YOU understand why this is called “research”?”

    1. Aash,

      (1) “Sorry about the typos in my comment.”

      Not a problem in the least! These are comments. The thoughts and data are all that matters. Grammar and spelling are extra.

      (2) “I think you are being picky”

      Absolutely not. Saying scientists’ forecasts about fusion were wrong is a very big deal. Its important is seen by the frequency with which this falsehood is repeated (almost every other comment here mentions it).

      (3) “I can’t show you press forecasts because Google doesn’t apparently cover the press so far back.”

      That’s because your theory is bogus. The last section in this post deals with this in some detail, giving an actual (not imagined) forecast from 1976. I very much doubt anyone made a forecast of “15 years” earlier than that, because fusion engineering was in such an early state of development. The articles you cite are recent. They cite no past forecasts, and make no mention of past forecasts of 15 years to future. The FastCompany article predicts fusion in the next 15 years – only time will tell if that is correct.

      (4) “See Krivit’s paper on the subject.”

      I’m familiar with his articles (eg, this). Saying they “lied” is a pretty scurrilous charge. I know Hirsh (he was one of my major sources during the peak 2004-2012 peak oil hysteria). I know many climate scientists, including some who have testified to Congress. Presenting technical matters is difficult. While it might seem simple to you on the sidelines, it’s not to those responsible for helping form public policy.

      (5) Re: Rossi and Suncell

      You have not responded to anything I’ve said. Repeating their claims is not evidence. Time will tell who is correct.

      (6) “ITER alone hwill cost $25 BILLION, and 60 yers so far.. Are they scammers? “Do YOU understand why this is called “research”?””

      That’s silly. Leonardo da Vinci designed an airplane, but the first powered flight was 400 years later. Was aircraft research a scam? Successful fusion would justify every dine spent on the research, and be well worth the wait.

  12. Thank you for your timely article…

    To clarify matters, Global Energy Corporation is LENR energy technology out of SPAWAR/U.S. DoD.

    SPAWAR JWK LENR technology transmutes nuclear waste to benign elements while creating high process heat. The SPAWAR JWK LENR tech group birthed the Global Energy Corporation (GEC). Applied engineering has culminated in the GEC ‘GeNie’ LENR reactor(s) placed in unit with a helium closed-cycle gas turbine electrical generator. This unit is called the GEC ‘Small Modular Generator’ (SMG).

    Recent commercialization claims are, “GEC is currently negotiating several new SMG construction contracts ranging from 250MWe to 5GWe around the world”. This LENR energy technology leads towards massive electrical power generation and the worldwide cleanup of highly radioactive nuclear waste.

    This puts them ahead (in the size of the claims) of Leonardo Corp, Black Light Power, or the Brillouin Energy group.

    I’m convinced that the most advanced LENR energy tech is emergent from U.S. military LENR research. It would only be released/exposed to the public (through GEC) if it was (1) Already utilized in the transformation of U.S. defense energy needs. OR (2) Worthless and insignificant.

    To provide a context when pondering this I have put together a compilation, reviewing twenty five years of U.S. funded ‘cold fusion’ projects including patents, contracts, publications and public/private sector partnership efforts towards LENR energy applied engineering and LENR energy commercialization.

    Google “United States Government LENR Energy 2018” https://gbgoble.kinja.com/united-states-government-lenr-energy-2018-a-review-of-1822335542

    Also

    Although ‘fusion’ does (at times) occur in the nuclear reactive environment of LENR; the bulk of the energy release is from isotopic shifts, transmutation, and weak force interactions. Energies from these, within the nano multi-body confinement system, leads to energetic bursts from nano fusion events. Most of the energy released in LENR systems is from weak force interactions; not hot fusion (strong force interactions). The term “The meek shall inherit the Earth” comes to mind. Scratch the religious connotations.

    I would also posit that MFMP is further along than we realize (they have theory also). Dr. Bob the Cold Fusion Dog has been quiet of late… Though I expect his group is still in the race. Most people from Estonia consider themselves Scandinavians or Nordic (not russian); their work looks promising for market entry. Parkhomov is dialing it in. Leif Holmid et al is certainly on to something… A bit quiet of late, yet most likely quite busy working on it . Lattice Energy LLC/NEDO LENR reports good progress (they have theory also). Gennadiy Tarasenko out of Kazakhstan is of interest; this group may be seeking market entry as well (they have theory too).

    1. Gng,

      (1) This post includes a link to your article “A Review of U.S. Government LENR Energy Involvement” by Greg Goble, as posted at E-CAT World.

      (2) I do not believe claims that these systems are ready for commercialization at (eg, 250 MWe). That’s not how power systems work. These claims themselves cast doubt on the credibility of those making them.

      First, power companies would require seeing a bench plant (last research stage). After that they begin the commercialization process. For example, here is a proposal by the National Energy Technology Laboratory for a type of next-gen power plant.

      • Phase I (Feasibility) = produce the preliminary cost estimate and schedule for design, construction, and operation and produce an environmental information volume (EIV).
      • Phase II (Design) = produce a front-end engineering design study and complete the National Environmental Policy Act process.
      • Phase III (pilots) = construction and operation of a pilot plant.

      A pilot plant is a pre-commercial plant produces small amounts of power, mainly for the purpose of learning about the new technology. This is essential for risk management and to demonstrate the tech’s economics. Its operation produces data about the relationship of operating parameters to economics and output, detailed understanding of input requirements, development of safe operating procedures, and estimates of both capital and operating costs.

      A pilot plant for nuclear power was SM-1 (US Army), producing 2 MW starting in 1957. The Soviet Union built a larger pilot in 1954, the 5 megawatt Obninsk Nuclear Power Plant. In 1957 the the Sodium Reactor Experiment generated 6.5 MW (it had a partial meltdown in 1959).

      A demonstration plant: a larger scale plant that generates significant amounts of power, testing the decisions made at the pilot level. It shows safe reliable operation at economical costs to build and operate.

      The 69 MWe prototype fast breeder reactor Fermi 1 was a demo. Started in 1963, it had a partial meltdown in 1966. The Vallecitos Nuclear Center was a 40 MW demo, began operation in 1957.

      Then power company executives gain approval from their boards and regulators to build a production plant.

    2. GBG,

      I added examples of pilot and demo plants to my comment. Refresh to see the revised comment.

  13. A fair article, perhaps too fair to the LENR faction. As for all the small scale oddball approaches to hot fusion, a disruptive breakthrough is always “fantasy” until it pans out. Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs sitting in that garage with a pile of transistors and microchips must have fantasized about building a multi-million dollar company — but probably never a trillion dollar company.

    The good thing about all the new Asperger’s tech billionaires is that they have to do something with all that money. Sometimes the places they put their money create something new and good. Fusion could well be one of those things

    1. Schoenberg,

      I didn’t well communicate my point: there is much research on the fringes of science (where new ideas are born) about new energy tech. Only one needs to work. We can only guess as to what that might be.

      A future in which one of these succeeds is, imo, more likely than a late 21st C in which coal is the dominant fuel.

  14. There is no ‘we’ — just vision and blindness. When will vision at long last seize the reins of power in this miserable, chaotic, lost world? We need reasonable tech that matches what can be known now. Medical tech, brain research, power generation, space development… All of it now, by force. Too many people are suffering tremendously waiting for needed investments that will never come in their lifetimes for the sake of greed and ego. The world is walled in by irrational competition via intentional limitations.

  15. The important news is that the private efforts are built on NEW reactor designs, not the failed tokomak “magnetic confinement model. For example, LPPFusion in Middlesex, NJ has operates an experimental reactor (FF-1) that produces NO radioactive waste (ie aneutronic) .

    The FF-1 is based on an entirely different design called Dense Plasma Focus or Focus Fusion. Very different and quite ingenious design.

    The final phase of experimental work with FF-1 is underway. The FF-1 has achieved 2 of three criteria to reach fusion. The energy produced is supercheap (1cent a kWhr)… The Hydrogen- Boron fuel will be loaded later this year once the final design and materials are tested with the first firing shots scheduled for about 1 November… this project is not 30 years and $30 away…

    Great explanatory videos and updates at LPPFusion.com.

    1. Posa,

      “The important news is that the private efforts are built on NEW reactor designs, not the failed tokomak”

      In stories, scientists find the solution with the very first try. That ‘s how it was in the Tom Swift books I read as a child.

      In the real world, scientists pursue many lines, most of which are dead-ends, to find the successful solution. So it has been with fusion (some methods here). I remember the excitement in the 1980s for inertial confinement.

      Each of the methods being investigated today has enthusiasts just as excited. Most will be proven wrong. But only one needs to succeed.

    2. Larry:

      The vast majority of funds for fusion research is going to magnetic confinement. ie the tokamak design. (ITER is a $50 B+ project) … the rest of fusion funding is a pittance. The major inertial confinement facility at Los Alamos was terminated years ago. We don’t know which of the alternate designs will work. In gauging potential success we can only go by the published results.

      Based on what’s been disclosed, LPPFusion has reached the highest benchmarks among the non-tokamak machines, being #5 overall.
      http://lppfusion.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/ntauT-chart.png

      Based on performance to date, enthusiasm for LPPFusion is certainly warranted. And note, the tokamak machines ahead of LPPFusion have peaked, whereas, LPPFusion hasn’t even loaded the Deuterium-Boron fuel or tested the new design, so the upside looks to be much higher.

      Of course nothing is a sure bet at this point… but the performance data have identified a front runner.

      Of course,

    3. Posa,

      Do you have a published article by an expert in fusion — an independent expert — supporting your evaluation? Or are you such an expert?

  16. On Feb 13, 2018: The judge dismissed all charges in the lawsuit brought against Dr Tim Ball by BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver. It is a great victory for free speech.

    First Climate Lawsuit Judgment” by Tim Ball at his website.

    ‘The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science’.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPzpPXuASY8

    “Human Caused Global Warming”, ‘The Biggest Deception in History’.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPzpPXuASY8

    Presentation by Tim Ball (2012)

    1. Songhees,

      That’s good news! I added fuller citations to your comment to encourage readers to click on the links.

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