Fusion power only years away: B.C. company
Published Sunday, January 25, 2009 6:43PM PST
A Burnaby, B.C. company says it's only a few years away from producing electricity in a way that has eluded scientists for years -- nuclear fusion.
If they succeed, cheap and nearly limitless energy could be on the horizon, said General Fusion's Michel Laberge, the scientist behind the project.
"If this works, the cost of fuel will be negligible, and everyone could find the fuel they wanted at low cost," said Laberge.
Nuclear fusion power isn't the kind of power that's created in traditional nuclear power plants. There, large atoms are split into smaller atoms to create energy -- and there is the risk of a nuclear meltdown.
With nuclear fusion, small atoms are fused together to create power, a much less dangerous and much cleaner process.
What distinguishes General Fusion from billion-dollar fusion megaprojects is that they have produced the telltale reaction at a fraction of the cost, said Laberge's partner, Doug Richardson.
They have produced a small device at only $800,000, and have their sights set on the next stage of the project at $50 million, said Richardson.
"We believe we can generate net gain (of electricity) in three to five years, and get power on the grid in ten years," he said.
While there have been breakthroughs in ways to create nuclear fusion power since research began in the 1950s, it always seemed years away.
That doesn't mean it's a goal that will never be reached, said UBC Physicist Jeremy Heyl.
"There are lots of promising ideas that have come from left field," he said. "With this company, their idea might just be the one that works."
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jon Woodward