Fusion: The Ultimate Green Energy

Utilizing fusion to generate our electricity would change the world. We would be able to power our cities with miniature

Utilizing fusion to generate our electricity would change the world. We would be able to power our cities with miniature “vacuum-sealed stars”. The benefits of fusion power would be enormous and limitless.

Since nuclear fusion is such a powerful way to generate energy, it could eventually replace all other forms of energy production anywhere in the world. That would mean that generating energy from fossil fuels would no longer be necessary making electricity production entirely carbon neutral.

Today’s nuclear power plants exploit nuclear fission which is achieved by splitting the atomic nuclei of heavy elements such as uranium, thorium and plutonium. This process is used to generate electricity but it also generates radioactive waste.

Fusion unleashes huge amounts of energy through the binding together of lighter elements such as hydrogen and helium. Nuclear fusion is what powers our Sun.


If fusion power were harnessed directly on Earth, it could produce inexhaustible clean power. It could utilize seawater as its fuel and would produce no greenhouse gas emissions. Radioactive waste would be very low and a fusion power plant could be completely recycled within 100 years of shutdown.

The advantages of fusion over fission are paramount. Fusion generates three to four times more energy than fission does. Fusion doesn’t produce any radioactive waste and is free of hazardous waste.

           So why are we not using safe, clean nuclear fusion power yet?

Quite simply, controlling a fusion reaction has proven to be an engineering nightmare. To achieve a fusion reaction requires a temperature of about 120 million Celcius. At such extreme temperatures the atoms form a superheated plasma. Keeping this plasma in one place long enough for the nuclei to fuse together requires the use of strong magnetic fields generated by electrical superconductors in which the plasma is trapped.

While China and South Korea have set timetables to put fusion online in the 2040s, the U.S. hasn’t set a date for when it hopes to have fusion go online. The main hurdle is the investment of billions of dollars before the first commercially viable watt of power is produced.

The history of the U.S. Department of Energy’s magnetic fusion program is littered with half-completed experiments and never-realized ideas. A recent laser-based approach to fusion has the potential to develop a new energy source without actually blowing anything up. In 2013, a San Francisco lab was able to produce the first significant fusion reaction. Although the experiment was a success, it did not generate more energy than it used.


An experimental fusion reactor “ITER” (originally an acronym of International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor and Latin for “the way”) is being built in France and is expected to be the first plant to produce more energy than it consumes. Lockheed Martin has recently claimed to have designed a fusion reactor that can fit on the back of a truck. Even more impressive, the team expects to test their design within a year and build a prototype in just five years’ time.

If either of these projects come to fruition the energy game will change forever. Fusion energy is powerful, plentiful, cheap and clean. There is no end to the ways such an energy source could radically transform the world.

Matt Helland
Sr VP of Client Relations





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