The Fusion Energy Consortium

Abstract

By the end of this century the world will have depleted economically viable fossil fuel reserves. At the same time the worldwide demand for energy will double. Renewables such as solar, wind, geothermal, etc., are wholly inadequate to supply the world’s electrical power needs let alone the needs of the transportation and agriculture sectors. If mankind cannot develop a new source of energy of the magnitude of fossil fuels, worldwide population will drop by a factor of 10 to pre-industrial age levels. Today’s atomic fission based nuclear power is the only energy source that can meet the 22nd Century’s energy demands. However it has too many dangerous problems to be implemented on such a vast scale. The only known solution is the development and commercialization of a different type of atomic energy known as fusion energy. Although scientists have been studying fusion for over 60 years they have not been able to harness it in a controlled environment. For a variety of political and sociological reasons no country has dedicated itself to developing fusion energy for the practical purpose of generating energy. The job can best be done in the private sector. However, the risks are too high based on our current level of scientific knowledge, and the costs are prohibitive. The solution is the Fusion Energy Consortium which will organize the tremendous amount of required capital and incentivize the private sector to take on this task in an efficient and collaborative manner. The public and political leadership will become educated on the tremendous need to develop practical fusion energy.

The Fusion Energy Consortium is a member sponsored U.S. IRS Title 26 501(c)(3) compliant LLC established as a foundation to stimulate the science, research, and development leading to practical controlled nuclear fusion energy.

What is Fusion Energy?

Fusion energy is a potentially unlimited source of energy capable of producing baseload power for the world’s electrical grid as well as the production of synthetic liquid or gaseous fuels for the ground and air transportation industries.

Fusion energy is produced when a select set of light element atoms are combined with another light element atom creating a new element and a release of energy. The energy release occurs because the mass of the new element atom is slightly less than the sum of the masses of the original 2 atoms. The difference in mass is energy. Mass and energy are but different manifestations of the same thing as explained by Dr. Albert Einstein in this historic recording.

Fusion fuel cycles may use common isotopes of hydrogen, a third isotope of hydrogen “bred” from lithium as well as helium and boron. The elemental fuel sources are extremely cheap and virtually unlimited because a very small amount of “fuel” creates a very large amount of energy.

Fusion is intrinsically safe. It cannot explode, produces no pollution whatsoever, and in its aneutronic form, produces no radioactive waste.

It is for these reasons that fusion is considered the holy grail of energy. Learn more

Why has fusion energy not been harnessed yet?

Controlled fusion is very difficult to achieve. Due to the coulombic repulsion of the atoms to be “fused,” these atoms must first be stripped of their electrons and put into a plasma state. This requires extremely high temperatures in the 100 million degrees Kelvin or higher range. This involves extremely expensive equipment and facilities. Furthermore it involves extremely complicated physics and math. Whereas the United States government labs along with other government labs worldwide have been working on understanding the details of fusion energy for over 50 years, the programs have not received the needed funding and long term commitments based on a lack of “political will.” The various fusion programs have been started and stopped numerous times based on Congressional and Whitehouse leadership. In the late 1970s and early 80s America was the preeminent leader. However the last major set of scientific breakthroughs and related records set in the U.S. were achieved by the Princeton Plasma Physics Labs in the late 70s and early 80s. Today there is little direct fusion work being conducted in the U.S. under government sponsorship and virtually all such efforts are being conducted as “work in kind” in support of the U.S. contribution to the international ITER project. Learn more

Why must fusion be developed?

Today the vast majority of worldwide baseload energy…meaning electricity placed on power grids… is produced by fossil fuels, nuclear and hydroelectric. Virtually all energy used by the transportation and agriculture industries comes from fossil fuels. Whereas there is much popular discussion about “renewables” such as solar and wind, the fact of the matter is these renewables are wholly inadequate to supply today’s energy needs. By the end of this century worldwide energy needs will more than double. Other than traditional nuclear power based on nuclear fission, there is simply no other realistic solution. Learn more If fusion is not developed and commercialized over the next few decades, and no other alternative energy source of fusion’s potential is discovered, the human world population will contract by an order of magnitude by 2300 because simple energy sources like burning wood and bio mass along with hydro can only sustain a worldwide population of 750,000,000. In that event there will be no aviation industry. Learn more

Fusion and the private sector

As has been demonstrated over the last century in highly complex fields such as aerospace engineering and the electronic semiconductor industries, innovation is at its strongest in the private sector under free market economies. The same will hold true for fusion development and commercialization.

However, there is still much science to be learned before any one lab or company successfully demonstrates a sustained net energy gain fusion reaction process. The facilities, equipment, and scientific personal required to conduct the requisite research and development is extraordinarily expensive. The uncertainties of such work leading to any practical commercial value make the financing of fusion energy projects all but impossible from traditional institutional and venture capital sources.

Furthermore the public, prevailing media, and political policy makers have little if any understanding of the need for fusion and the science surrounding it. Thus the “fusion is only 20 years away and always will be” myth is propagated.” And the inaccuracies surrounding “renewables” quench any imperative to develop fusion. The public, media, and policy makers must acquire a basic scientific understanding of energy. Learn more

Today’s fusion development efforts jeopardize fusion’s future

As of Q2, 2018, there is one major international fusion development project funded by 7 partner countries. This project is known as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor or ITER. ITER is not a commercial electrical power generation system demonstration. Rather, ITER is an extremely large tokamak project meant for experimental science. It is justified to increase the scientific fusion communities’ knowledge base and demonstrate a sustained net energy gain fusion reaction. ITER’s current projected date of first Deuterium Tritium reaction experiments is set for 2035 and is decades past due. ITER’s financial cost has exceeded its original projection by an order of magnitude to over $20 billion USD. Learn more

Virtually all U.S. government funded fusion efforts in the U.S. are work in kind effort projects supporting the U.S. ITER obligations. After ITER was proposed in 1984 the U.S. agreed to put its civilian, non NNSA (National Nuclear Safety Administration) fusion efforts on hold in furtherance of its ITER participation. Learn more

There are currently 7 privately funded fusion projects in various stages of development in the United States, Canada, and the UK. These are Helion Energy, Tri Alpha Energy, General Fusion, Tokamak Energy, MIFTI, Lockheed Martin Compact Fusion, and LLP Focus Fusion. An eighth company, Commonwealth Fusion Systems has been organized as a Delaware LLC and indicates it has significant early funding.

Five of these projects are pursuing an “innovative confinement approach” as compared to the large scale tokamak approach such as PPPL, JET and ITER. Tokamak Energy is developing a spherical tokamak implementing high power superconductor magnets. Commonwealth Fusion Systems has not released any scientific details as of mid Q2, 2018. As such these companies are relying on unproven and untested assumptions. Each has a unique set of scientific challenges which may or may not be overcome leading to success. Thus each project is extremely risky from a financial standpoint. We have analyzed and outlined the respective challenges of these companies. Learn More

If ITER fails due to science or politics or a number of private fusion start-ups fail for any reason, fusion will effectively be killed forever. The science is too complicated and the physics & mathematics too advanced for the public and politicians to understand. Thus, they cannot objectively evaluate the reasons for such failures; be they scientific, financial, or managerial.

The Solution is the Fusion Energy Consortium™

The Fusion Energy Consortium will overcome the current obstacles involving lack of development funds for scientific research and development and the perceived lack of need for fusion power. The consortium will make the successful demonstration of controlled fusion the 21st Century moon shot. Learn more

The Fusion Energy Consortium will serve as a financial “insurance policy” for all participating fusion development companies by providing a full payback of all monies invested into these companies in the event the company’s scientific goals are not met and no commercial value is forthcoming.

The Fusion Energy Consortium will also reward a successful company(s) who actually produces a demonstrable fusion reactor producing sustained net energy gain, meaning more energy is produced by the fusion reaction than was expended initiating and sustaining the reaction.

The Fusion Energy Consortium “Fusion Incubator”

  1. The moving forward solution is the activation and funding of the Fusion Energy Consortium.
  2. Private fusion companies such as Tri-Alpha Energy, Helion, Tokamak Energy, General Fusion, First Light Fusion, LLP Fusion, Commonwealth Fusion Systems, and Magneto-Inertial Fusion Technologies, Inc., should become members in the consortium. Other viable candidate companies will be recruited as well.
  3. A fusion energy consortium scientific advisory board will be formed. This board will be composed of experienced academic and research fusion science and engineering experts not currently affiliated with any government funded national laboratories or research programs along with one representative from a National lab such as Los Alamos National Laboratory as well as scientific leaders of each fusion company member. Learn more
  4. Critiques and analysis of each member’s scientific papers and status report submittals are performed by the evaluation committee and distributed to all member fusion companies on a fully transparent basis.
  5. Member fusion companies are encouraged to cooperate with each other and share scientific information and ideas.
  6. The consortium will receive additional funding by the American public through revenues produced by a series of video games.
  7. Additional funding will be generated by the licensing of patents held by EnergyCite LTD to utilities as well as the sale and use of energy conservation programs marketed by EnergyCite. Learn more
  8. Funds will be distributed to each of the member fusion companies to accelerate their respective projects and incorporate design improvements or approach modifications as agreed based on a results driven milestone basis.
  9. As first proposed by Dr. Robert W. Bussard in his June 6, 1995 letter to congress, a series of milestones will be formulated based on the development plans of each member fusion company and cash will be awarded based on milestone achievement and milestone accelerations. Learn more
  10. A major cash award will be made as a challenge to the first company who achieves a MAJOR MILE STONE such as the first net energy gain of 10 sustained for 30 seconds (sustained burn event.) This award will be significant; i.e., a half billion dollars.
  11. Member fusion energy companies cross license all other members on their proprietary IP, patents and accumulated scientific know-how.
  12. The consortium will finance needed steps to build demonstrable fusion reactors once the sustained burn event has been concluded.
  13. Any company is free to cease its business operations, drop out of the consortium, and elect to seek compensation from the consortium in an amount equal to that invested by the company and its funders plus an equitable return based on the length of investments.
  14. The Fusion Energy Consortium serves as an “insurance policy” to the fusion development company’s investors that their invested capital will be recovered even if the science and technology fails to have commercial value; i.e., no working fusion reactor is produced and proven as an example.
  15. If the view of the fusion review board is pessimistic with regard to any of the fusion member companies actually achieving the goal of a sustained net energy fusion burn, be it a steady state approach or a pulsed equivalent, a new fusion company can be organized such as the ARPA-E funded Los Alamos National Laboratory PJMIF group and request funding from the consortium subject to the approval of the evaluation committee. In the event the new fusion company is successful at achieving the major milestone event of creating a sustained net energy producing reaction, the major milestone award will be doubled and 50% shall be distributed to the other fusion member companies in a ratio based on invested capital in each such company.
The PJMIF project is shown as an example of an untested but potentially viable approach to fusion. Read more about PJMIF

The Magnitude of the Fusion Energy Consortium Fund

The order of magnitude minimum fund will be $5 billion USD prior to the initiation of the consortium and the engagement of participating fusion energy development companies.

The Fusion Energy Consortium Members