Cheap fusion beats fossil fuels: Page 2 of 2

October 13, 2014 //By R. Colin Johnson
Cheap fusion beats fossil fuels
Researchers at the University of Washington (Seattle) claim to have invented a simpler fusion reactor that is more economical than a coal-fired power plant, yet produces zero green house gases.

The current prototype is officially called the helicity injected torus steady inductive three (HIT-SI3), because it has three torus injectors. The next prototype -- appropriately called the (HIT-SIX) -- will be twice as big as HIT-SI3 (which is about three meters across) and will test whether the principles of the spheromak design with with six torus injectors will work with the higher temperature plasmas in the final Dynomak.

"If we can show that it works, then the rest of the development of the full-scale Dynomak will be relatively low risk," Sutherland told EE Times.

It will cost about $8 million to $10 million to build HIT-SIX, which the researchers are soliciting now. It will be a scaled down version with all the subsystems required for the full scale Dynomak, which will generate a gigaWatt of power for the grid.

According to the researchers it will cost about $2.7 billion to build a gigaWatt Dynomak power plant that produces no greenhouse gases, compared to $2.8 billion for a environmentally unfriendly coal-fired plant of the same output.

The team has filed patents on its design. Other collaborators at the University of Washington included fellow professor Brian Nelson in electrical engineering, post-doctoral researcher, Brian Victor who has already graduated and graduate students George Marklin, Chris Hansen, Michael Pfaff, Kyle Morgan, Eric Lavine, Michal Hughes, and Aaron Hossac along with Yu Kamikawa and Phillip Andrist formerly of the University of Washington.

Funding was provided by the US Department of Energy.

— R. Colin Johnson, Advanced Technology Editor, EE Times

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