Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It's raining fusion projects

This week, three press releases came out about separate nuclear fusion initiatives.  First up was the University of Washington, who announced on October 8 that they will present their "dynomak" concept at the upcoming Fusion Energy Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida Russia.  Next up was Sandia Labs on October 14, who announced new results from their "Z-machine", including significant neutron production.  Finally, we have Lockheed-Martin, who announced on October 15  that they had made a breakthrough in some sort of cylindrical-confinement fusion configuration, and are working toward building a 100Mw reactor in the next decade that would fit in a semi trailer.

These follow on the heels of prior announcements from:

And, of course, ITER keeps plodding along, projecting that they might have something interesting by 2027, after consuming about $20 billion.

I've seen some speculation that Lockheed-Martin's concept might be related to EMC2 Fusion's results, although I don't see evidence from the available information.  At any rate, three announcements from three different groups within a week leads me to wonder whether something is afoot.  For one thing, there is the October 13-18 International Atomic Energy Agency Fusion Energy Conference.  But I also suspect that there is some grant or venture funding cycle that the three are going to compete for.

Interesting times for fusion research...