Aneutronic Fusion

Aneutronic fusion is, at the moment, the only way known to science to potentially get unlimited, ecologically safe, non-biohazardous, radioactive waste and spillage free power that is cheaper than any energy source now available.

Aneutronic fusion can be produced using various aneutronic fuels and various fusion devices or generators. LPPFusion uses hydrogen–boron-11 (pB11) as an aneutronic fuel for a device called Dense Plasma Focus. This unique combination comprises LPPFusion’s approach to fusion called Focus Fusion.

Aneutronic fusion means fusion that does not produce any neutrons. This is extremely important because:

  1. Neutrons produce radioactivity by merging with other nuclei to produce unstable or radioactive materials. Without neutrons, no radioactive waste can be produced.
  2. Neutrons are destructive to material structures. If you don’t have any neutrons, you can make a source that is very small and very dense and therefore very cheap, without worrying about the damage the neutrons can do.
  3. With no neutrons, the energy of the reaction is carried away by the nuclei themselves—which are charged particles. Moving charge particles are electricity, so you can take the energy out by a direct conversion process, using a high-tech transformer, without converting the energy to heat, making steam and driving a turbine and generator. This reduces costs radically.

The ideal aneutronic fuel is a mixture of hydrogen and boron. At extremely high temperatures—billions of degrees—hydrogen nuclei (protons) fuse with boron-11 nuclei to very briefly form a carbon nucleus. But the carbon nucleus has too much energy to stay together, so in an instant it breaks up into three helium nuclei. These nuclei carry the energy released by the reaction.

See Wikipedia or NASA pages for more on aneutronic fusion.

 

Advantages Aneutronic fusion shares with solar, wind, geothermal tidal and ocean thermal:

  1.  No green house gases. The only by-product of the hydrogen-boron fusion process is helium.
  2. No fuel spillage. A 5MW generator needs only a kilogram of fuel each year. No more Deep Horizons!
  3. No radioactive waste. Because the hydrogen-boron reaction produces no high energy neutrons, no radioactive waste is produced.
  4. Unlimited energy. If we take boron out of seawater, there is enough boron to last us a billion years at ten time’s current energy production rates.
  5. Decentralized power—5 MW fusion generators would be so safe they could be placed in residential neighborhoods, reducing dependence on fragile transmission networks.

 Advantages unique to aneutronic fusion:

  1. Much cheaper than all existing energy sources. Because it is extremely compact, aneutronic fusion would be at least ten times cheaper than any existing energy sources, with electricity costs below 0.2 cent per kWh. No other green energy source today costs less than 10 cents per kWh. By out-competing coal and other fossil fuel technologies on price alone, carbon-neutral Focus Fusion will be rapidly adopted once it is demonstrated.   With Focus Fusion, we will dramatically cut our emission of greenhouse gases. Coal plants and oil refineries will be phased out as ending the destruction of  land and water to harvest coal and oil shale. Forests will return to strip mining regions. Alaskan wilderness will be spared from drilling. Vast tracts of land will be liberated from hydropower plants as the dams can be taken down or used only for flood mitigation. The transition to electrical transportation will get a huge boost as the cost of charging an electric car will drop far below gasoline.
  2. Much less impact on the environment. Because they are so small for their power, aneutronic fusion generators will have a small impact overall on the environment, including mining the material needed to make them. Each 5 MW generator will weigh about 3 tons and occupy a small building the size of a garage, about 20 square meters. By contrast, solar energy requires at least 10,000 square meters—2 football fields– for the same power and 1600 tons of material. A 5MW wind turbine has a support over 100 meters tall, a rotor diameter of over 120 meters and weighs more than 500 tons. 
  3. Steady source of power. Focus Fusion generators will produce steady power, that can be switched on or off in small, 5 MW increments as load varies, in contract to solar and wind whose output is both variable and somewhat unpredictable. In fact, during the transition to an all-fusion economy, Focus Fusion generators can be used to stabilize the grid relative to the variable inputs from solar and wind.  In fact, New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities expressed interest in just this possibility.
 

These advantages have a huge social impact. Aneutronic fusion could be introduced rapidly, once it is developed, as its cheapness would make it easy to replace existing power sources. Even more important, if could be introduced widely the poorest parts of the world, such as Africa and the Indian subcontinent, where wide swaths of the population have today no access to electricity. Finally, extremely cheap energy would make possible almost complete recycling, as it would be possible to have all waste from every source—garbage, industrial waste– recycled to raw materials in ultra-high temperature plasma torches. Toxic dumps can be wiped out with plasma torches and reduced to their elements and it would be possible to even remove carbon dioxide form the atmosphere. See a summary of Focus Fusion benefits. Several devices use aneutronic fuel. Our approach uses a plasma focus device.