Plasma is the Key to Hot Fusion
Many people are confused by the difference between hot and cold fusion and it is easy to see why. Both terms are vague catch all phrases for complex phenomena.
Hot fusion would use superhot plasma to generate incredibly high temperatures to make energy. The plasma in some fusion reactors is incredibly hot up to 100 million degrees Celsius. It’s a difficult process, right now scientists know how to make the plasma but not how to contain or control it. The fuel would be so hot that it would instantly burn through the walls of the reactor.
That means magnetic fields have to be used to contain the plasma. Generating those fields will be the tricky and expensive part. The magnets in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in France weight almost as a 747 between 10 and 20 tons, Popular Mechanics reported. The ITER project itself is projected to cost $18 billion (€17.05 billion) to complete.
Germany’s Wendelstein 7-X stellerator is an attempt to create a cheaper alternative with a very weird shape. Unlike the ITER the stellarator is up and running right now but commercialization is years away. Scientists differ on how long it will take to build a commercial fusion reactor MIT’s Dennis Whyte thinks it might be possible by 2025, the team at ITER is shooting for the 2030s.
So what’s Cold Fusion Anyway?
Cold fusion is even more confusing because the term does not necessarily refer to fusion. Instead it refers to an electrochemical reaction that generates an incredible amount of heat.
Since 1987 a number of scientists and inventors have been able to achieve such reactions including Pons and Fleischman, Andrea Rossi, Brillouin, Parkhomov and others. Unfortunately none of them have been able to explain what is going on because the reactions they create violate the laws of modern physics.
The advantage to cold fusion or low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) is that it would not require a massive or expensive containment field. The problem is that inventors like Rossi have not been able to been able to control the process. To make matters worse many of them refuse to reveal the details of their processes largely to prevent replication.
The big difference is that we understand the science behind hot fusion; but we lack the technology to make it work, while we don’t understand the science behind LENR. Yet strangely enough we may have the technology to make cold fusion work.
Yet we should pay careful attention to both technologies because there is a strong possibility that one or both of them might be successfully commercialized in the near future. Were that happen we would have the means to generate vast amounts of technology while burning little or no fuel and putting out little pollution.
That would be a true game changer that will make energy as cheap and plentiful as computing power today. Cheap computing power is changing the world with the widespread of application of artificial intelligence and the popularity of bitcoin. The paradigm shift created by fusion will be far greater and more profound.