Dark horse scores a fusion coup

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Science  28 Aug 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6251, pp. 912-913
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6251.912

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Nuclear fusion has always required titanic machines and vast amounts of public money—and success is always decades away. Now, a privately funded company has taken what some physicists say is a significant step toward mastering fusion energy with a smaller, cheaper, faster approach. Tri Alpha Energy announced this week that it has built a machine that forms a ball of gas—superheated to about 10 million degrees Celsius—and holds it steady for 5 milliseconds without decaying. Those conditions are well short of what is needed for fusion, but the feat shows for the first time that Tri Alpha's unorthodox approach can trap hot fusion gas in a steady state. Now, the scientists hope to scale up the technique toward times and temperatures that cause atomic nuclei in the gas to fuse together, releasing energy.

  • * in Foothill Ranch, California