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By Dr. Michel Laberge, Founder & Chief Scientist, and Michael Delage, Chief Technology Officer at General Fusion. General Fusion has focused a lot of effort on plasma technology over the past few years, and that investment is now paying off. For those of you who don’t spend all day playing with plasma, here’s a quick reminder of what it is: plasma is the superheated gas that is the fuel for a fusion power plant. Controlling the behaviour of plasma is widely considered one of the most difficult aspects of fusion. General Fusion is a leader in the development of plasma, specifically a type of plasma classified as “self-organizing”, and has set some world records along the way. Today we’re going to have a look at how this has been progressing.

By harnessing the same process that powers the sun and the stars, fusion has the potential to be a zero-emission, safe and widely available source of energy. Fusion runs on hydrogen, and this fuel must be heated to immense temperatures – over 150 million degrees Celsius – to release its energy. Learn how a General Fusion power plant creates fusion energy with the infographic below, followed by full explanation of how the process works.

Fusion could provide an effective way of cleanly producing large amounts of energy, substantially reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. For fusion energy to make it to the grid, it needs to be converted into electricity. While this seems simple, the design of many fusion power plants in fact makes it very difficult to extract the energy and convert it to a useful form. General Fusion’s power plant design overcomes this challenge, because it enables the use of existing steam turbine technology to produce electricity from fusion. Learn how a General Fusion power plant converts fusion energy to electricity in the infographic below, followed by full explanation of how the process works.

By Michael Delage - Chief Technology Officer at General Fusion The media coverage surrounding the Fusion 2030 proposal has been a reminder that the promise of fusion is not lost on the world. In shining the spotlight on this report, a discussion has ignited about practical pathways for clean energy technology and its development. General Fusion is a strong supporter of Fusion 2030, and I have been speaking to people around the country and describing to them what the pathway to making fusion a commercial reality might look like. As for any new technology, there’s a development pathway that needs to be travelled to take fusion from lab experiment to power on the grid. We’re further along this pathway than at any point in history, but there’s still road to travel and challenges to overcome. For Canada, the first step is capacity building: national leadership to renew our research infrastructure and invest in Canadian talent.

By Michael Delage - Chief Technology Officer at General Fusion General Fusion’s Founder, Dr. Michel Laberge, can often be heard remarking that “Fusion and plasma physics research sounds exotic and exciting, but a lot of it still boils down to plumbing and wiring.” It’s perhaps a simple way of pointing out that the pursuit of fusion energy is a thoroughly multi-disciplinary endeavour, and that there are more than a few challenging technologies that underpin any fusion research program, before you can get to the cutting-edge physics. Some examples:

By Brendan Cassidy - Open Innovation Manager At General Fusion we believe that collaboration and the open sharing of results is key to unlocking fusion and transforming the world’s energy supply. That means we are always looking at ways to engage others in our efforts to accelerate our pursuit of commercially viable fusion energy. We are actively engaged in the fusion community and regularly attend scientific conferences, collaborate with other fusion scientists such as those at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), and keep the public informed about our progress through the media. Recently we’ve gone outside the box by crowdsourcing some of our scientific and engineering challenges. Crowdsourcing has been successful for technical powerhouses such as NASA, so we’re in good company in going to the crowd.

By Michael Delage – Chief Technology Officer Fusion energy, long the domain of national laboratories and university physics departments, has seen a surge of interest from the private sector over the past decade. The market opportunity opened by the transformation of the energy industry, combined with the emergence of new technologies, has created a space for scientists outside of academia to advance the state of fusion and focus their research on approaches with practical, commercially viable outcomes.

By Michael Delage – VP Technology and Corporate Strategy Renewables are on a tremendous roll.  Global clean energy investment hit another record in 2015, showing that renewables are in demand even in the face of falling oil and gas prices.  China, working hard to deal with its air pollution problems, led the way by far.  This growth looks set to continue, becoming a critical contributor to reducing carbon emissions.  Yet despite the still relatively low penetration of renewables in the energy mix (2.8% of global energy consumption), there are some jurisdictions where renewables are running into constraints.

I attended the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles this week – a gathering of top business leaders, finance executives, innovators and politicians. The profile of fusion energy at conferences like this continues to grow – from TED to GLOBE to Milken and many more. For the first time in the conference’s history fusion energy had its own panel, with Michel Laberge (General Fusion), Dennis Whyte (MIT), Michl Binderbauer (Tri-Alpha Energy), and Tom McGuire (Lockheed Martin) discussing the progress in fusion energy and the barriers that remain (you can watch the full panel discussion in the video at the end of this post).  Key themes from this panel included: