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California To Invest In Fusion Research?

Looking for ever cleaner energy sources, California may soon be looking to fusion to power it’s states growing energy needs. According to the website, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is planning to invest in a multi-million dollar research effort to evaluate the Inertial Electrostatic Fusion reactor system invented by Dr. Robert Bussard.

If successful, the reactors could power up to 250,000 homes for just a fraction of the cost of other systems.

<tag> fusion, science, California+clean+energy, Schwarzenegger, Dr+Bussard </tag>

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12 Responses to “California To Invest In Fusion Research?”

  1. Ken, Just to inject a little cynicism into this, but…

    As for success, when I first considered fusion in the 1970’s, it’s development was 10 years from today (today then in the 1970’s). In 1985, I was teaching a course in fusion and had taken a grad course in fusion as well - it was still 10 years away. Even in the 1990’s, it was still 10 years, maybe 20 tops. Then in the late 90’s (probably during Clinton’s administration), I started hearing more like 50 years.


    Apologies if the formatting is still screwed up.

  2. Paul-

    Cynicism is a good thing, especially for high concepts that always seem just out of reach. In this case, I am merely passing along the news. Fusion has always been promising but unreachable. If this guy can do it, it will be a boon for us all. I hope that before too much tax revenue is sent into this that there are some practical working models to advance the theory into a reachable goal. otherwise, it’s just more money down the tubes. however, with california’s projected population nearly doubling in 30-50 years, someone has to try something.

  3. Here are a couple of links explaining the concept:

    Bussard Fusion Reactor
    Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion

  4. Fusion research fell into a rut decades ago, with all the attention and funding going into a single approach — the tokamak device, which is now looking more and more like a very expensive dead end (i.e. ITER). It got even worse after the whole “cold fusion” flap, because everyone became very skeptical and cynical about anything with the name “fusion” on it. All these alternative ideas couldn’t get any funding.

    Bussard’s IEC device is probably the most promising, but there is also the Focus Fusion Society promoting their plasma focus device, and there’s the startup company TriAlpha with their colliding-beam device. They’ve all been trying to work on a shoestring compared with ITER.

    Now California is going to get the ball rolling, and we’ll find out whether this can really work or not. The news made my day.

  5. super collider part 2

  6. Tony-

    Glad to have made your day.

  7. I was long a fusion skeptic too, but I’ve spent a lot of time looking into the polywell (Dr. Bussard’s) approach, and it neatly side-steps a lot of the problems that make fusion so hard for the other approaches. I really think it’s got a good chance of working, but it’s been under a publishing embargo for years (until 2005), and also starved for funding.

    If this is true, it’s possibly the best news of the decade. I only hope it doesn’t turn out to be a hoax or mere rumor!

  8. This appears to be a fraud. I’ve been talking with the Governor’s office, and they say it is flat-out false and has no basis.

    In addition, I’ve been unable to find any useful contact information for “NextEnergyNews,” not so much as a name or phone number. Some searches have turned up other dubious stories they’ve posted on so-called “free energy” schemes and so on. I think we may need to put them at the top of our list of web sites to ignore.

    For more info or to join in discussion, click my name (which should take you to

  9. Welll Joe, thanks for going the extra mile and following up on this. Too bad if they aren’t at least looking into this idea though, as some, including you, seem to think it has some promise.

  10. More details on the false alarm:

  11. Thanks M. Simon. Appreciate teh follow-up.

  12. It’s entirely possible the Governors’ office just doesn’t know about a project as small as a few million. They do oversee a $100B budget.

    What’s Next Energy’s News’ track record? Have you cited them very often? They seem to be at least a couple years old.

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