In a July 23 editorial, Nature magazine has joined the calls to redirect fusion funding to aneutronic fusion—fusion that produces no radioactive waste. Speaking of the difficulties facing the ITER tokamak program, the editorial urged that, “Given these realities, the prudent course for the world’s funding agencies would be to support research into alternative fusion fuels, such as deuterium-helium-3, or proton-boron-11—which require higher temperatures to ignite, but produce very few neutrons—as well as alternative reactor designs that would be simpler, cheaper and more in line with the kind of plant that power companies might buy.”
Nature specifcally urged that one of the projects that should be considered for government funding is “Lawrenceville Plasma Physics in Middlesex, New Jersey, which is trying to exploit a configuration known as a dense plasma focus to build an extremely compact reactor that does not emit neutrons.” LPP, now known as LPPFusion, Inc, was one of only two projects that the editorial cited as examples of worthy projects, the other being the University of Washington effort of Thomas Jarboe and his group.
The editorial in Nature, one of the leading scientific journals in the world, adds to the many voices that have advocated changing the direction of the international fusion program, which now funds almost nothing but the extremely expensive ITER experiment. This experiment will be based on deuterium-tritium fuel, a fuel that produces many neutrons and thus creates radioactive waste, as well as damaging the walls of the reactor itself. Over 50 scientists have signed an open letter urging such a broadening of the fusion effort, especially to include aneutronic fuels. LPPFusion, Inc’s Focus Fusion project will use the proton-boron-11 fuel mentioned in the editorial.