Nuclear fusion power plant plans underway in US after breakthrough.
The US is planning to build a commercial nuclear fusion power plant in the next few years following a major breakthrough with the near-limitless clean energy source this week.
Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California announced on Tuesday that they had become the first in the world to achieve fusion ignition, meaning they saw a net energy gain with the next-generation technology.
It was hailed as “one of the most impressive scientific feats of the 21st century” by US Energy Secretary Jennifer Graham, holding the potential to revolutionise clean energy.
“The president has a decadal vision to get to a commercial fusion reactor within 10 years,” she said. “This shows that it can be done.”
Experts have warned that the first fusion-based power plant will take billions of dollars and many more years to realise, though the Department of Energy offered $50 million research grants to develop blueprints for a utility-scale pilot plant.
Advocacy group Fusion Industry Association claimed that at least 15 private fusion companies have applied for the grants, with applications closing on Thursday.
Among the applicants is California-based Longview Fusion Energy Systems, which is working in collaboration with the University of Oklahoma in order to develop concepts to build and operate commercial power plants, according to a report in The Norman Transcript.
“At this point, we are positioning ourselves to build the first-of-a-kind power plant – there will be many in the future,” Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, vice president for Research and Partnerships at the University of Oklahoma, told the local paper.
“We’ll be the first one to develop and manufacture infrastructure that goes around the first-of-a-kind plant. It’s going to create thousands of jobs. It’s going to be a multibillion dollar project... I have no doubt, with our partners and others, to turn this scientific discovery into a successful fusion power plant that connects to the grid that generates power, it’s a game changer.”