Katherine Bourzac writes for Chemical & Engineering News about a group of start-up companies hoping to capitalize on the potential of nuclear fusion to turn abundant fuels into carbon-neutral energy. These companies want to commercialize fusion by the 2030s to feed growing global demand for energy while addressing climate change. Meanwhile, a multi-billion-dollar international science project called ITER wants to demonstrate net energy generation from fusion by 2035, leading to commercial reactors in the 2050s or 2060s. Skeptics of the start-ups say the companies may be overlooking serious challenges, particularly with regard to finding suitable reactor materials, that the more science-focused ITER project will explore. But fusion entrepreneurs expect new technologies, including high-temperature superconductors and machine learning, will give them the edge.
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