The little guy in my memory told me that nuclear fusion is still decades away (2040 or later) and is in fact so far away that we have no other alternatives than to invest heavily in nuclear power, solar power, wind energy and so on.
Nuclear Fusion is beautiful. All of us are stardust. In the beginning there was only H. And from burning H the stars produced all other elements. And from those elements we “assembled”. So what is cooler than stardust creating a star.
But we are all waiting for our own little stars to tap into near endless sources of energy so all of us are anxiously waiting and read any progress on it. It will not solve all the problems in the world (and maybe it will even accelerate a lot of bad endings for humanity) but… I guess we need it to at least get rid of all the stress around nuclear fission and so every news is uhm… “hot”.
“We” actually had these nuclear fission reactors a long time ago. In Oklo in Gabon, Africa, a natural nuclear fission reactor ran for a few thousand years as well as on at least 16 other sites. (In the science fiction novel Bridge of Ashes, by Roger Zelazny, the Gabon mine was stated to have been created by an alien race for the purpose of causing mutations which ultimately led to the existence of humans.) (picture) so why is it that hard? Maybe we can invent a time machine first and transport some of the material needed from that time to this place to “ignite” (workaround?) (grin).
But … with a a lot of different steps of progress (see the timeline of nuclear fusion) it seems to be coming nearer. This is not an unsolvable problem but it needs ongoing budget and as far as I can see the budget (is still) there.
Actually …. I read “nuclear fusion will be available this year” and I even read that the prediction is that many companies will have access to a mini reactor for their private use (pretty cool, every city their own little star) pretty soon, so whatever company (or individual) can bring us this gadget, his name will be in stone forever.
In 2009 we had the largest Laser ever firing up to ignite the fuel to 3.000.000 degrees Celsius. So we are on our way to our first star. But for this specific site I read also a lot of criticism…so… there is a long road to go.
(Despite the criticism popular breakthrough news needs to be emitted to the public to keep the funds coming in).
So … the good news is … we will get it. the bad news: probably not this year unless we have A LOT of luck. And in this case I say “we” because probably most of humanity will benefit from the first prototype, actual plants build around it later and probably lot of improved versions even later.
So well… unluckily our generation has to survive with nuclear fission for some more years but the good thing is that it is a temporary solution. The nuclear fusion technology will probably take care of the nuclear waste we have build up in between, so let’s keep that in places where we can handle it later.
I hope I can blog one day “my weblog is now powered by nuclear fusion”.