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 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 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 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
- Chinese Fusion Reactor from Left Field
- EU Approves Fusion Project
- Sci Fi Author Karl Shroeder on Fusion Power
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