Press Statement from Lawrenceville Plasma Physics Inc. on the Impact of Hurricane Sandy and the Need for Aneutronic Fusion

Middlesex, NJ – November 6, 2012
Contact: Eric J.Lerner;; Lab: (732) 356-5900; tweet @LPPX

Today, one week after Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey, too many remain without power and communications. Gasoline is still in short supply. This is the third major power outage in this area in 15 months, so it is no fluke of nature. While some of Sandy’s damage was the unavoidable result of a powerful storm, the collapse of the region’s energy infrastructure was wholly avoidable and we must take steps to prevent it in the future.

Some steps are obvious and can be done with existing technology. Power lines and transformers everywhere must be buried underground in water-tight conduits, so that every tree and branch does not become a threat to the power grid.

But the sudden implosion of the gasoline supply in New Jersey, home of many of the nation’s largest refineries also shows the dangers of reliance on centralized sources of energy. If energy flows from a few choke points outwards, it becomes extremely vulnerable to disruption.

Surely the series of disasters we have witnessed in the past two years—the Deep Horizon oil spill, the Fukushima meltdowns and now the widespread and lasting power disruption following Sandy—should convince us that we do urgently need a new source of energy. We need energy that is safe, reliable, clean and distributed—spread out in many locations so that a few disruptions do not knock out an entire region.
Aneutronic fusion could provide that new source of energy, if it is successfully developed. Aneutronic fusion is nuclear energy with no radioactive waste. It uses the same process that gives light to the Sun and other stars—nuclear fusion—to derive huge amounts of energy from tiny amounts of non-radioactive fuels such as hydrogen and boron. The ‘ash’ from this process is the useful element helium. Aneutronic fusion generators can be small and safe, without any large fuel storage on site, so they can be located in many communities, close to energy demand. This would make it impossible to knock out a whole region’s power by a localized disruption. In addition, they require tiny amounts of fuel—several pounds a year, so fuel delivery would never be threatened. Finally, such small generators, producing power directly without expensive steam turbines, could be much cheaper than any existing power source and their fuel is abundant enough to last for billions of years into the future.

No working aneutronic generators exist today—they have to be researched and developed. The fusion process requires temperatures of billions of degrees, hundreds of times that in the center of the sun. Yet scientists, here at our small laboratory in Middlesex NJ, and at other research facilities, have achieved such extreme temperatures with experimental devices. More research must be done to also achieve the rate and duration of fusion burn needed to produce net energy—more energy out than in. Then, much engineering would be needed to produce a reliable generator ready to install.

Today, scientists are at work on at least five devices that could become aneutronic fusion generators, and more and more researchers are recognizing that this is the path toward the cheap, clean, safe and reliable energy we need. But far more resources are needed to make this potential a reality. We at LPP have joined with researchers in other countries to advocate the establishment of an International Aneutronic Fusion Program, funded by several governments, to accelerate and coordinate this research and development effort. We urge all who want a new source of energy as soon as possible to support this initiative. You can show your support by signing the Fusion for Peace petition, and by organizing local Fusion for Peace groups to educate others. Together we can end energy disasters.



Categories: Electronics, Advanced Materials & Manufacturing Industry Network

Author:NJ Tech Council

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