“Compact” nuke fusion power in our future?

18Jun09
Thirty years after Three Mile Island, and a few more than 20 after Chernobyl, we as a nation we remain trapped in a no-nukes-nohow malaise that precludes rational discussion of this energy source.
I am neither an energy expert nor a physicist, merely an occupant of the planet wondering why, in the face of proven toxicity from carbon-based fuels, we remain in a knee-jerk psychological state where we can’t even rationally discuss nukes — and their relative health risks — as part of the energy mix.
Most of the anxiety is around disposing of radioactive waste from nuclear fission, for which there is no immediate solution; the Band-Aid is sealed storage.
The Holy Grail has long been controlled, self-sustaining hydrogen fusion.  It turns out that there may be meaningful progress on that front, as John Timmer’s article below suggests.
By John Timmer | Last updated June 16, 2009 6:25 AM CT

Despite all the focus on alternative energy sources, nuclear fusion has barely rated a mention, as it has turned out to be very difficult to execute. The construction of ITER, a very large scale fusion reactor, has become a divisive issue within physics because of its size and resultant cost: €5 billion. But a team of researchers has discovered what may be a workable configuration for a different kind of reactor, a reverse field pinch that operates on a much smaller scale. Even with comparatively low energy and fields, calculations suggest it should be able to achieve fusion.  Read more.

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