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Can Fusion Bring Safe, Cheap Energy to the Nation?

09/03/15

fusion

The future of electricity production in the United States is very much in flux. When President Obama introduced his Clean Power Plan, it was an indication that the days of fossil fuel dominance could be on the wane. If coal, oil and natural gas are on their way out as the nation's primary energy sources, however, what will fill the void?

The Game-Changing Energy Option

Renewable resource technologies like wind and solar are an option, or perhaps a resurgence of nuclear fission energy could fill the space left by fossil fuels. There is another dark horse in the market, though – a technology that has long teased cheap, clean fuel but to this day has not yet delivered: nuclear fusion. Although fusion has so far failed to live up to its rosy promises, some analysts believe it could reach the U.S. market in a decade and change the way we power our electrical work forever.

Big names like Lockheed Martin, Amazon, Microsoft and others are all working on or sponsoring various fusion projects that at least have a chance to go commercial. The potential payoff is simply too big to ignore. A functional fusion generator could create power without burning fossil fuels or creating harmful emissions or waste, with no danger of meltdown and at a far greater efficiency than wind or solar. We could power the entire country's electrical work in a green, inexpensive manner.

How Fusion Works

In a way, fusion is already the most common source of energy on Earth – it's how the sun produces the heat and light that help sustain life on our planet. Fusion in the sun occurs when the nuclei of hydrogen atoms bond together to make helium. Humans have been trying for decades to create a similar power source here on Earth, on a much smaller scale, but so far without success. As one popular saying tells us, fusion power is thirty years in the future, and always will be.

However, researchers and entrepreneurs aren't willing to throw in the towel. Scientists are trying to create fusion using other fuels, like deuterium oxide, of which a single gram can create enough energy to power a home's electrical work for a year. The problem is, to create fusion on Earth, we need to create extremely high temperatures (think 100 million degrees Celsius) and don't currently have a way to do it without consuming far more energy than we create.

New Technology Leading the Way

The firms working on fusion today are breaking out new technologies, pumping gas into vacuum chambers to create plasma and bombarding it with microwaves to raise the temperature. Whether anyone can make the process viable in a cost-effective and large-scale way is yet to be seen.

Fusion could be just around the corner, or it could still be a long ways off. In the meantime, if you want to learn about cheaper or more efficient ways to power your home electrical work today, call an expert electrician who can lay out the options available in your area.



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