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Fusion Power in the Next Five Years!?

A prominent venture capitalist, Wal van Lierop, of Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, has begun to invest in companies (such as General Fusion) who are providing patents and click now viagra mexico technologies for economical fusion power. In a recent interview at the Clean Tech Investor Summit (which we're very sad we're not attending), van Lierop said that he expects large energy companies to start thinking about building fusion plants within the next five years.

As we've noted before here at EcoGeek, the best way to track down that technologies are going to (very shortly) change the world is to watch what the venture capitalists are doing. These are people who basically make ridiculous sums of cash by predicting the future...and investing in it. And since they've got so much riding on their bets, they like to do a lot of research.

Often this is research that people like me (because I don't have billions of dollars to invest) can't do. So I follow the VCs, and pay attention to what they're saying.

And what van Lierop is saying seems almost crazy, on the surface. But dig a little deeper, and things start looking exciting. Despite sounding like a comic book hero, General Fusion's technology is very realistic. In a world where we're all used to hearing that "Fusion power has been twenty years away for twenty years" hearing that it's five years away is pretty remarkable.

General Fusion hopes to create small fusion reactors that cost around $50 million a piece and generate roughly 100 megawatts allowing for roughly 4 cent / kwh electricity. That's about the we use it buy viagra on the internet same cost as coal.

The fusion system the use, called Magnetized Target Fusion which uses lithium as a fuel. The lithium is heated and mixed with intensely pressurized plasma. The lithium then breaks down into tritium (hydrogen with two neutrons), which is then mixed with deuterium (hydrogen with one extra neutron.) In the high energy environment, the tritium and the cialis shipped canada deuterium fuse to form helium, and create a whole lot of heat.

The heat captured is significantly greater than the energy used to run the device and the only byproduct is helium and other harmless gasses.

Via CNet Clean Tech

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Comments (41)Add Comment
wow! ... and one little correction
written by Erin, February 11, 2008
Firstly, I'd like to say that that sounds very exciting. I'm definately going to look that up and get some more explanation since I'm not very up on a lot of that stuff. (is it just me or does it remind you of Doctor Octavious's experiment in Spiderman 2?)
As for the little correction ... I couldn't help but point out the misuse of 'their' in the third paragraph. It should be 'they're' instead. Sorry, Hank, but as a grammar nerdfighter I just couldn't let it slide ;)
total energy
written by Daniel Bell, February 11, 2008
what's the ratio of energy to energy out?

given that the energy in will likely be fossil

fusion is already possible, just not possible in a positive energy balance situation, so this will be interesting to see
re: total energy
written by George Vaccaro, February 11, 2008
@Daniel Bell,

I'm pretty sure that the goal is to produce more energy than they consume, otherwise I'm pretty sure no one would invest in it.

If that assumption is correct, which it must be, they would presumably use some of the energy they produce for input.

They'd probably use energy off the grid to start the reactions etc., but again, what kind of power plant would it be if it consumed more than it produced?
written by X, February 11, 2008
Polywell fusion technology, especially the machine designed by Dr. Bussard, is also another promising path to fusion energy and buy viagra online us is being funded by the US Navy.
Bussard Fusion Experiments
written by M. Simon, February 11, 2008
You can find out more about the current status of the Bussard Fusion Experiments here:


WB-7 First Plasma
Lead Operation Engineer
written by Jim, February 11, 2008
I worked at the Princeton Plasma Fusion lab welding in the tritium and the deuterium vault around 1988 when there was an issue around the Savannah river missle system. Would the price cialis American public be open to using tritium and the deuterium after that issue?
written by EV, February 12, 2008
Jim, What issue? You say there was "an issue" but don't actually say what it was.

Besides, Tritium and Deuterium are just hydrogen.
written by Mark R., February 12, 2008
I as skeptical about this as most are about the "hydrogen" economy. besides how expensive is Tritium and Deuterium to get produce etc? And if the power production isn't a positive in the financial column they can alway sell the Helium thats created since thats becoming a more rare commodity but is needed by the truck load for computer chip development.
and we get helium?
written by Matt, February 12, 2008
Didn't I read not too long ago that we may face a helium shortage pretty soon?
It's not that complicated. And, not rea
written by Matt, February 12, 2008
This process involves colliding two plasmoids together just as they are compressed with a wave of liquid metal.

The result is fusion heat. The heat is used to create steam and to feed back into the system.

The power generated costs about the same as Coal power. Just without all the pollution.
But 50 years sooner and 2 trillion dolla
written by Matt, February 12, 2008
So there is that.
... and one more little correction
written by shane, February 12, 2008
Erin, In your post you quickly corrected Hank on his misuse of the word their, unfortunately you misspelled the word definitely as definately. As a "spelling nerdfighter" I just couldn't let it slide :)
RE: Lead Operation Engineer
written by Patrick Davis, February 12, 2008
The problem I think that Jim is referring to is that combining Deuterium and Tritium has a radioactive byproduct because of the leftover electrons after their combination in the reactor. This is the case with all Tokamak fusion reactors. New areas in fusion have been trying to solve this problem by combining elements that will not have left over electrons and thus no radioactivity.

I am surprised to see that no one here has even mentioned Focus Fusion. In my opinion (and its only that) is that focus fusion offers the 50mg viagra retail price only real alternative that involves fusion. Focus fusion uses hydrogen and boron, two very abundant elements and online meds viagra combines to create helium. There are no extra electrons left over and thus no radiation. Only a small amount of x-rays are emitted and engineers of this project think that a type of solar panel can be used to encase the device and actually harness power from this as well.

The other advantage to focus fusion is the lack of a turbine. Instead of heating water to create energy, an electron beam is passed through coils which converts the energy directly into usable electricity. These devices are also significantly cheaper than 50million to build and can be housed in a building the size of a gas station. A runaway thermal event is also impossible, because if the reactor was breached the process would stop immediately.
You can find out more at

Dr.Lerner gave a speech at Googles headquarters recently and is available on google video.
written by Erin, February 12, 2008
Fusion is a giagantic scam propagated by the scientific community. Since the 1950s it has always been "just around the corner" and they "just need another billion dollars" to bring about this clean free energy source. There's a reason GE pulled it's funding in the 1960s: Fusion was just as unfeasible then as it is now. We have a lot more fancy gadgets now, but just like Icarus we will never be able to reach the sun
written by RhapsodyInGlue, February 12, 2008
Another thing to keep in mind about fusion based on tritium and deuterium is that it generates a lot of very high energy neutrons. This creates a very significant issue with constructing the pharmacy on line viagra entire machine out of materials that can withstand this flux for long periods of time... also creating disposal problems, as the equipment itself becomes radioactive. Unless they've come up with some clever new way of dealing with it... which would be quite a breakthrough.

The Bussard team is hoping to leapfrog tritium-deuterium and use boron for fusion... a process which has far less high energy neutron flux.
Nuclear and BioFuel
written by JonathanS, February 12, 2008
This is exciting, if feasible.

Our only two options for a "renewable" energy source at a large scale are Nuclear Fusion (Fission could work, but only for ~50 years, and it produces waste, which is safe, but undesirable) and BioFuels. A Hydrogen economy is only feasible as a fuel cell (read: Battery) to store the energy for use in vehicles and buy cialis on line backup generators. Hydrogen is not a viable energy SOURCE at a large scale-- you have to put energy into water to cause catharsis and produce hydrogen gas.

Nuclear Fusion allows us to harness mass-energy of matter. The science is there in principle, its only a matter of time until it is feasible in practice.

BioFuels are a great alternative. The CO2 emissions from fossil fuels right now are an issue because they come from plants and animals millions of years ago. If we were to move large scale to a BioFuel energy economy, the very plants that are needed to make BioFuel absorb CO2 from the atmosphere to grow. The level of emissions produced from these BioFuels is balanced by the level of absorption from the growing plants. In principle, this would leave our current level of CO2 where it stands today, and further steps to reduce atmospheric CO2 could be taken if necessary .
green car new
written by green gordon, February 12, 2008
I think it is interesting how as we run into trouble with current energy sources, we reevaluate other sources.
Another Fusion Scam
written by stephanm, February 12, 2008
I agree with the earlier poster--most fusion research is a scam.

Controlled fusion typically fails because it is impossible to obtain the fuse the particles together (i.e obtain the necessary cross section) before they basically bounce away from each other ( decay due to turbulent effects ). Attempts have been made to over come this, by designing, for example, reactors in highly non-equilibrium configurations, but in every case so far, some kind of instability arises which causes everything to break down.

It is basically impossible to design a stable system because the underlying equations are so complex--may researchers try to rely upon some simplified macro-equations (i.e. Fokker-Planck ) which simply can not pick up instabilities that couple different time scales

Does this mean research should stop--certainly for large scale projects like ITER! There is no science here--the whole approach is to use a giant hammer to solve the problem.

Will anyone make progress--well, Steve Balmer thinks so, and has funded some work here.

Still, I would not put any tax money into these crooks.
written by SkeetBot9000, February 12, 2008
right now they do more damage than good. Carbon Debt.
written by bob, February 12, 2008
It will be interesting to watch how it might stack up against the renewables like Solar/Wind. If proven, fusion might become a viable option in the short run, but the only systems that can capture renewable energy sources might be the ones standing in for the long run.
The technology isn't the problem - sitin
written by Aaron Cruikshank, February 12, 2008
Hey guys,

Great discussion all around. I had the benefit of seeing both the CEO of General Fusion pitch his company to a room full of Pacific NorthWest VCs (in Vancouver at the Financing Forum in January) but I got to hear Wal van Lierop talk about his take on Clean Tech investments as well. Wal is a great guy and a good speaker and so is the CEO of General Fusion - Doug Richardson.

I didn't get any facetime with Wal but I had a good chat with Doug at the event. I think the cheap cialis biggest hurdle they face is the regulatory issues. Siting anything with "fusion" in the name is a big challenge. They want to try it out in an urban centre to start with and I'm not convinced that any amount of rational argument around the safety of this technology (which I believe, btw) will convince a fearful public.

The public will fear that this technology will have the potential to "melt down" in their backyard and will reject it outright. Remote communities might be willing to try it. The tar sands in Northern Alberta, for example.

I feel bad for Doug because I think he's really on to something with his platform technology and wow look it soft gel viagra with the right investments, it will be successful. I'm just not sure if the public is ready for it or not.

It sure as hell beats coal, nuclear or natural gas for electricity.

Good luck Doug and Wal.
wind power hydrogen
written by J.C., February 12, 2008
Building wind farms in states with high average winds can produce all the hydrogen we need without any other power source after construction is complete. A new distribution infrastructure will be needed but the hydrogen will not require an outside power source for creation as many current hydrogen generation plans do.

here is a book explaining the idea

these people have a small community running on wind generated hydrogen now

GE may have stopped their hydrogen projects but so what - technology has come a long way since 1960 - I mean my computer almost never needs punch cards anymore - lol
Other good things about fusion....
written by Stephen, February 12, 2008
The advantages to creating sustainable fusion are not all about the pollution-free production of energy. Two other advantages come to mind: 1) high energy neutron emissions can be used to destroy fission waste (read: all that U238 sitting in a mountain in Nevada); 2) The weight of the fuel is considerably smaller and more abundant than other options, allowing for a possible use in outer space.

Fusion really is a necessary achievement for technological progress to continue, and I'm happy to hear of any investment. Even if the proposed process is misguided, even mistakes add to the pool of knowledge that will one day generate a sustainable fusion model.
Geez, now you give South America a lot o
written by No one, February 12, 2008
80% or all lithium on Earth is located in Bolivia, Argentina and Chile.
Oh yeah, if its Li7
written by No one, February 12, 2008
Then its only one country.. Bolivia.

Have you heard of this
written by mathguy0235, February 13, 2008
I still think that the best way to produce fusion is by using a Fusor. Its basic design was developed by Farnsworth. For those who don't know what that is, its kinda like a linear accelerator except it's a big sphere and the Boron/Hydrogen nuclei smash together at the center of the hollow sphere. They're drawn there because of a deep potential well that is created. For a more detailed description check out
written by projectmanagement, February 13, 2008
we'll see if this is really something or just another scam.
written by Simon, February 13, 2008
I wonder how many years of lithium fuel we have left?
written by GunOfSod, February 13, 2008
repeat as necessary
fusion is the best thing ever
written by Mark, February 14, 2008
"Fusion is a giagantic scam propagated by the scientific community"

Take a look up into the nightsky sometime, all those little bright dots are just little indicators that no fusion is not a scam. A scientific hoax for what benefit? Its not like anyone has a reason behind wasting billions of dollars on a fusion reactor that doesnt produce a higher energy ratio, just because scientists arent as smart as they think they are and they cant effectively do fusion doesn't mean it is a hoax, because that would mean they knew it wasnt going to work and made it not work on purpose. Any argument against fusion is retarded, it is the most natural and good choice cialis from canada proven source of energy out there and without it humans wouldn't be here. And to the person who said "how much does it cost to produce tritium and deuterium?" Well you dont have to worry, fresh water may run out but we are gonna have our oceans for a while, and those oceans contain a LOT of deuterium and tritium. The fusor will never produce any energy above the 1:1 energy ratio. My dad has been building wind turbines for most of his life so I should be biased towards wind, but to the person who said wind turbines everywhere could power everything once they were up and running and hydrogen would take care of energy storage. Well this is dead wrong wind energy will never be a real solution because of the cost of building a wind turbine. At least in solar you have the hope of it getting more efficient but wind turbines will always be a costly prodject, and theres no getting around that. People will argue fusion is expensive too but it produces way more than even the biggest of todays wind turbines. Oh and you act as if once the towers are up we can just leave them and that will be it for energy, but you dont know much about maintenance of wind turbines huh? That gets expensive and they typically need to be repaired before they even have produced enough energy to make up for the cost of construction. (which takes about 5 years now with good wind turbines) To the person who said "arent we about to face a shortage of helium too?" Fusion isnt like coal, the products of the reaction arent going to be in the gigantic quantities that coal and other plants release, it is going to be more like a tiny bit of helium released. And the person who was talking about the "issue" that never got explained, it is not as if terrorists could not get their hands on deuterium and tritium, it really wouldnt be that hard I am reading a book about a teenager here in america who obtained enough to get himself a lethal dose of radiation. (And he didn't have millions of dollars and a large sophisticated terrorist group) There really is no argument against fusion because as soon as power producing plants start getting built, (not gonna be for a while, this article about it being 5 years is totally wrong, but after ITER is done we prolly will start seeing it, unless ITER doesn't produce net power then scientists will have to say its 20 years away again) the whole world will shift to fusion and recommended site viagra usa slowly all those wind turbines and hydroelectic dams and stupid plants where they take mirrors and heat water (not efficient) will all just be abandoned. We will just have essentially free energy then and we will be able to power everything. There is no other way to produce the power humanity is going to need when we get to 10 billion in population size. Fission is the solution for now, fusion is the way of the future.

There will always be ways for humans to generate energy, we can convert waves (horribly inneficient) we could dig down to magma anything, the problem isnt finding a way to generate energy, but a way to generate it cost effectively, that is why ever eco energy thing coming out right now is stupid and the only answer to the human race is fusion. Everyone knows this, we just don't know when we will be able to do it, which is why instead of treating it like some fanciful scientific dream we should look at the fact that it is inevitable and we should start working as hard as we can on it.
Ahve a look to this:
written by matt, February 14, 2008
Only solutions working!!!
not about research, only the ones which are working!
written by david, February 15, 2008
What about helium-3 helium-3 fusion? isn't that the reasoning for building a moon base? To mine h3? also another question, how do I find out how to invest into these companies?
General Fusion...what a laugh.
written by Barry, February 16, 2008
I was a fusion research scientist for 6 years or so, working on the ITER divertor design and pfizer levitra cheap such...
I read the General Fusion site, what a joke. There
plan has zero chance of working, because plasma dynamics
is way too complex to just sketch a new concept out
on a napkin and proclaim a breakthrough. Fusion Energy
is a great thing, existing Designs like ITER will most likely work, in the sense of making net energy, although as a model powerplant, it is like asking the Wright Borthers to make a commercial airliner...possible, but far from efficient or elegant. But the General Fusion thing is just a Joke,
the way you know for sure is not a single person at the company is any sort of expert on fusion plasma physics---a recipe for disaster given how difficult it
is to control plasmas...the whole point is, they
do not behave ideally due to turbulence, instability,
and electrical resistances. No chance, VC idiots save your money.
Fusion Power
written by Php Shopping Cart Software, March 07, 2008
This is very interesting, but isn't there going to be a helium shortage soon?
written by Graham, May 02, 2008
Firstly, for the naysayers who would have it that fusion is a scam, you are wrong! Quite aside from it being the normal mechanism for stars to shine, the nuclear H-bomb tests that blasted Christmas Island in the 1950s were designed to use the fusion phenomenon, and the energy release was witnessed and recorded.

Down at atomic nucleus dimensions, the atoms are mostly empty space. Short of letting off a bomb, it is VERY VERY difficult to force nuclei together at a density where the probability of fusions happening in quantity becomes useful. Yet it is so very very worthwhile trying to contrive it because the payoff is so vast. It may be all we have to save the planet!

The whole business of burning fossil fuels is actually us trying to get at the Hydrogen, (unfortunately locked up with a load of Carbon), and expending it make water and CO2. With fusion power, if we must use portable fuels, we can drag it back by using the electricity to split the water. Meantime we should recognize that the evolved ideal solar collectors that directly take the CO2 from out of our polluted atmosphere, and locks the carbon up in a mass of wood and vegetable matter - are trees and grasses and other things with leaves and stalks! Probably some fusion power, if it can ever be made to work, should be set to pumping water and reclaiming the pfizer viagra 50mg deserts along with our climate.
written by mack, May 21, 2008
Fusion is actually a really great idea but you don't NEED lithium to get it to work, there are a number of places within the US quite capable of synthesizing Duetirium and tritium is actually not all that necesary for a succesful fusion reaction.

Electrolysis is not that hard and can be easily done and there are very simple ways of "mass producing" hydrogen while releasing very little greenhouse gases and for a pretty cheap price (lower than $.o4 a kw)

Also Fusion power could easily replace all large energy sources but one big problem if we are successful, containment failure of fusion reactor, there goes the neighborhood.
Fusion in space please
written by Rachel B, April 08, 2009
Not to be a nay sayer but if our dear planet is getting to warm already fusion thermal power will only add to it. Though the research is important i think wind, hydro, thermal, wind power can be a better bet at helping to reduce the fossil fuel dependance with a minimal impact on the environment. Lets keep fusion power in space.
The Case Against Tritium
written by Matt, June 01, 2009
Tritium is a man-made radioactive isotope of hydrogen that can be used in nuclear weapons. It was paired with deuterium as Tokamak fuel because its ignition temperature is about 1/5 that of the preferred pB-11 fuel used in DPF fusion research. Tritium and deuterium fuels produce high-energy neutrons (radioactivity) that make what they come in contact with radioactive as well.
Should ITER or another fusion approach that's aimed at making steam to drive expensive turbines ever reach energy breakeven, it's going to be despite all the energy it took to power up all of the electromagnets that attempt to control an unruly plasma.
Should they succeed, their steady-state confinement then poses the constant risk of containment breach, turning the hot plasma loose on the reactor walls.
Government fusion research has been a resounding success for decades now in terms of providing physicists with steady career paths.
Focus Fusion is an elegant approach to burning pB-11 (hydrogen-boron) using only the plasma's magnetic fields to guide the plasma through a series of instabilities. Nor is it steady-state, but very much like your car's sparkplugs, which authorize every new power cycle.
Just as elegant is Focus Fusion's power conversion system, which converts the resulting X-rays and and Helium-4 ions directly into electricity, entirely bypassing the the best choice mail order levitra bulky and expensive steam cycle.
Proof-of-concept experiments are scheduled for Labor Day, 2009, with energy breakeven (hopefully) in early 2010. Early model commercial units are expected to be around 6' x 6' x 9', complete, costing less than $500,000 FOB at the factory.

written by Brian H, July 01, 2009
Yes, Focus Fusion has enormous advantages, starting with being aneutronic and it's great! best price generic cialis culminating with size and cost. It's around 1/10 the capital and output expense of even the best alternatives mentioned here. And deployment beginning in 5 yrs. is possible. 7 at the outside if the p-B experiments are successful with a lab prototype by 2010.
It will solve at a stroke the Global Warming/Carbon problem, which does not exist, and the cheap energy and waste disposal problems, which do.
I am writing from... THE FUTURE!
written by Maury Markowitz, July 12, 2012
Well it's five years later.

And it didn't happen.
written by Mike, March 19, 2013
I happened to find a link to this in an old e-mail.

It's almost 5 years later and still no fusion. In fact, a recent news article says they're now saying it might be ready by 2020... ie, 7 years after their original 5-year forecast. http://www.canadianmanufacturi...ergy-62713

I'm sure they're making progress, but maybe we could all stand be a bit more skeptical of the latest "miracle breakthrough."

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