In the early 70s, Rob Goldston was a graduate student in plasma physics, and experiments to produce fusion energy were just starting to bear fruit.
“We had a huge party because we had made 1/1000th of a joule of fusion energy,” he told me. “It was ridiculous, it was a tiny amount of energy." A 35-watt light bulb, for instance, uses 35 joules every second. Now, 40 years later, the game has changed. A recent experiment at the Joint European Torus fusion reactor in the United Kingdom produced 20 million joules. And the National Ignition Facility in California just reached a milestone by producing more energy in a fusion reaction than was needed to start that reaction.
While eating lunch at a recent energy conference with the usual random selection of delegates and speakers, I asked the co-founder of a leading energy venture capital firm what technology he finds most exciting right now. Without hesitation, he began telling me about his company’s ambitious, longer-term bet on a small nuclear fusion company. He then put me in contact with his partner and co-founder, who helped fill in the details for this story.
In the race among world governments and wealthy companies to create and commercialize a nuclear fusion reactor, a small Canadian firm backed by innovative ideas and a little venture capital may just have a shot. A report from Agence France-Presse.
Michel Laberge quit his job to invent a "glorified jackhammer" that he hoped would save the planet. That was 10 years ago.
Now, investors are betting more than $30 million on that jackhammer idea, which may yield a holy grail of energy -- a safe, clean and unlimited power source called hot fusion.