Why has nuclear fusion always been 20 years away? : Watch this myth-busting documentary

Courtesy: New Energy Times

Is nuclear fusion a likely solution to climate change? Is fusion a viable energy alternative?

For 70 years, fusion scientists have promoted new design concepts, pointed to computer models, and unequivocally stated that fusion is the answer.

But where is the experimental evidence that the scientific method demands? And why has energy from nuclear fusion always been 20 years away?

In a 1993 hearing, nuclear fusion research representatives convinced the U.S. Congress to spend public money on ITER, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. ITER, they said, was the way to fusion energy. Elected officials in Europe, Japan, and the Soviet Union also agreed to fund ITER. Later, China, India, and South Korea joined the partnership.

The evidentiary foundation for ITER, they said, was the Joint European Torus fusion reactor, which, they implied, produced thermal power from fusion at a rate of 66 percent of the reactor input power. That foundation, as it turns out, was flawed.

Sometime around 2045, the $65 billion ITER project is expected to run its final experiments, which should produce, for 500 seconds, a thermal power output rate equivalent to the overall reactor electrical power input rate. Although this result would accomplish its scientific objective, the overall reactor output will be equivalent to a zero net-power reactor.

Instead, the fusion representatives told Congress, the public, and the news media that the ITER reactor would produce millions of Watts of power, ten times the power the reactor would consume. They said it would prove that fusion on Earth is commercially viable.

But the scientists didn’t disclose that the reactor would also consume millions of Watts of electrical power. They didn’t explain that the reactor is designed only for a power gain of the physics reactions, rather than a power gain of the overall reactor. If ITER works as designed, the 70-year research program will end up with a reactor that produces no overall net energy.

ITER, The Grand Illusion: A Forensic Investigation of Power Claims, featuring members of Congress, prominent representatives of the fusion community, and the two former spokesmen of the ITER organization, reveals the details of this story.

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