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Fusion 2020 White Paper

Fusion 2020 White Paper

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Published by: The American Security Project on Feb 14, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/14/2012

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Fusion Energy: An Opportunity forAmerican Leadership and Security 
Introduction
Electricity is the lieblood o the American economy.
From Silicon Valley to Detroit, Wall Street to MainStreet, I innovators, small and large scale manuacturing companies and investors depend on reliable,aordable access to electricity to power job growth, innovation, and prots.In the coming years, increasing demand or electricity will need to be met with a commitment to moreaordable, sustainable, and secure orms o energy production. By 2050, every power plant in theUnited States will reach the end o its liespan and need to be replaced.Te pending recapitalization o American power utilities represents a challenge and an opportunity.But even more undamentally, it is a choice: between business as usual with its unsustainable, unclean,unsae, and costly hallmarks, or we can set a new course to rmly establish American leadership in clean,sustainable energy production. Wind and solar, together with eciency and conservation measures, will certainly be a part o the new energy paradigm. But none o these will meet the increasing need or baseline power—the power avail-able 24 hours every day, regardless o the weather.Tis new course should include usion, the energy that powers the stars. During the last 30 years, therehas been great and generally unrecognized progress toward achieving controlled usion energy.Fusion power is sae and clean, and when commercialized, will solve many o the world’s energy prob-lems.Te primary obstacle to realizing usion’s potential is the integration o technologies into a power plantscale acility. Te leaders o the main U.S. national labs state that they are now ready to start buildingU.S. pilot plants to nd ways to overcome those obstacles.China, Japan, South Korea, and the European Union are pushing orward with aggressive eorts toresolve these challenges and secure leadership in the energy technology o the uture. In contrast, U.S.eorts, although very signicant, have been crippled or decades by severe unding constraints.Clear plans and recommendations or U.S. leadership have not been implemented.Te implications o delay are clear. We are in danger o alling behind.Establishing a national priority level o eort or usion, together with support or a balanced energy portolio, can reestablish American preeminence, achieve absolute energy independence, and developnext generation energy or the world.
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2
 AMERICAN SECURITY PROJECT
Key Facts
•
 We know usion works.
 
Fusion is taking place
in laboratories all over the world, including in theUnited States. It is the process that powers the Sun and all the stars.
•
Te key step, through engineering, is to turn this
science act into a commercial product.
•
 At the heart o usion energy is the world’s most amous equation,
E = mc 
 2 
which captures the relation-ship o mass and energy.
•
Te process is very dierent rom a nuclear reactor, which splits large atoms to create energy but leaveslong-lived radioactive byproducts.
Fusion combines small atoms together
. In doing so, energy is re-leased and the byproduct is simply helium gas.
•
Commercial usion energy plants would use relatively tiny amounts o uel to generate millions o  watts o electrical power.
 
•
Fusion is sustainable
: the uel is extracted rom seawater and lithium. Due to the amount o uel re-quired, the supply o these basic ingredients is essentially limitless.
•
Fusion is sae
: there is no chain reaction and there is no possibility o a meltdown. Unlike a nuclear s-sion reaction, control o usion is as simple as ficking a switch. When you turn it o, the reaction stops.Tere is no spent uel.
•
Fusion is clean
: there are no pollutants released in the air and no carbon is released.
•
Not only will usion give
 America energy independence
, it will also create a large number o jobs.
•
Te
United States runs the risk o losing the race to commercialize usion
to China or South Korea,due to lack o political will. America could be orced to buy its energy rom oreign countries that may not share its values or have its interests at heart.
•
Tere will need to be mass recapitalization o the energy generation market, as each present power plantin the U.S. will need to be replaced by 2050. Te question is:
 what will those plants be using or uelin 2050
?
 
3
 AMERICAN SECURITY PROJECT
Potential Strategic Gains or the United States
 With the political will and the right investment, the potential strategic gains or the U.S. in the aggressivedevelopment and deployment o usion power plants are extraordinary. Tese would include:
•
Clean, sae, sustainable, and aordable electricity generation in the U.S. and the world;
•
Energy independence and associated reedom rom oreign countries or our energy supplies;
•
ransition to an electricity-generating economy to power our cars and trucks;
•
Elimination o the actinides in spent nuclear-uel by building usion/ssion hybrid plants (using thehigh neutron elds rom usion to transmute the actinides in spent uel and thereby render the spentuel non-toxic within 200 years – not tens o thousands o years);
•
Te two-old boost to the U.S. economy o reducing our huge trade imbalance by eliminating the costo importing oil and making the U.S. a world-leader in the energy market by providing usion generat-ing plants or the whole world;
•
Creation o a large number o jobs in building and maintaining commercialized usion power plants;
•
Demonstration o how U.S. leadership in technology can be leveraged to drive leadership in energy; and
•
Increase interest and high-paying jobs or young people going into scientic and engineering elds.

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