MIT Goal: Fusion Demonstration Plant in 15 Years

A news release from MIT announces a collaborative research project between MIT and a private company, Commonwealth Fusion Systems with a goal to demonstrate a prototype fusion reactor within 15 years.

Some excerpts from the release:

“CFS will join with MIT to carry out rapid, staged research leading to a new generation of fusion experiments and power plants based on advances in high-temperature superconductors — work made possible by decades of federal government funding for basic research.

“CFS is announcing today that it has attracted an investment of $50 million in support of this effort from the Italian energy company Eni . . .

“The new effort aims to build a compact device capable of generating 100 million watts, or 100 megawatts (MW), of fusion power. This device will, if all goes according to plan, demonstrate key technical milestones needed to ultimately achieve a full-scale prototype of a fusion power plant that could set the world on a path to low-carbon energy . . .

“SPARC is designed to produce about 100 MW of heat. While it will not turn that heat into electricity, it will produce, in pulses of about 10 seconds, as much power as is used by a small city. That output would be more than twice the power used to heat the plasma, achieving the ultimate technical milestone: positive net energy from fusion.”

So it looks like MIT is seeing an opportunity to move fusion forward faster than the other projects such as ITER and US National Ignition Facility which are notoriously slow in reaching their goals. There are other private companies like Lockheed Martin, Tri Alpha Energy, Helion Energy and General Fusion which are trying to speed up commercialization of fusion.

Still, if Andrea Rossi can actually break through into the commercial space with a much cheaper, more efficient commercial energy solution, we might find more research efforts moving into the LENR arena.

  • One way or another our energy situation will become radically better in the first half of this century.

    The doomsayers need to STFU. The human race is on the verge of major breakthroughs in managing our environment, skyrocketing quality of life for all on the planet including radical health and longevity improvements. I just read an article today about a nanotech augmented drug that can dissolve plaque in arteries.

    • Bob Greenyer

      With any luck, we’ll all live for 200 years – they are sure to have hot fusion over unity by then 😉

      • Omega Z

        I’m not a betting man, but this is almost enticing.
        Probably in 200 years it will only be 10 years away. 🙂

      • Nick Sunchild

        It will be cold fusion in new clothes… sold as hot fusion engineering achievement.
        As it started a view years ago to switch the focus from hot fusion physics to plasma physics and how we deal with 100 MW energy release ( it is a engineering task ) in form of thermal energy.

        All investment has to be justified. No one will care that the physics will change on that way.
        Hot fusion is dead physics, dinosaurs will do everything they have to do to survive. They will sell the grand mother only to be right.
        That means they will change the physics silently in that moment when the engineering successes to deal with the energy release. So it looks like there
        achievement. We have to look closely, very closely!!!!

        Bob correct me if i am wrong!
        It is, and was, all the time cold fusion, and cold fusion can gets very hot. to get 100 MW is not the problem.
        we have 100th of burned down reactors around the world. To control the energy release and make it usable is a engineering task.
        To understand the physics makes it easier, but even when we don’t understand the physics, as long we engineer around the effect we can create technologies and use it.

        Did Rossi a lot of things right? To go from KW to MW back to W because the engineering in the low energy area is easier then in the MW area?

        But the over all question is!!!
        Do we allow to have a new version of centralized energy production or we grow up and decentralize it?
        Better lets say it in political correct way, to democratize the energy production. 😉

        • Bob Greenyer

          If Rossi is using the same process underlying Bostock, Hutchison, Shoulders, LeClaire, Adamenko, NOVA, ECCO, LION etc ( and more ) – then as it becomes more active, containment becomes the real problem since it will ‘eat’ most things – it makes sense to make small units. Another approach would be to surround with Lead and keep water flowing through it and only run it for so long before changing the charge – sound like anything.

          Rossi’s approaches make sense if it is the same process. I have no explanation for his choices if it is something unique. I doubt it is.

          • Nick Sunchild

            Thanks for your answer,
            if it is the same effect or not is not where i want to go, it is to much speculation i fully agree with you.

            I don’t want to criticize or judge over Andrea Rossi’s approach. More or less I think the interesting part is, his engineering view. And i assume that
            Dr. Andrea Rossi’s is highly driven from engineering decisions and not from the research on fundamental physics law. My personal meaning is, Andrea Rossi don’t care about the physics he more and more successfully
            cultivates and control’s around a thermal effect.

            What i want to bring to awareness is that he is not interested in disclose the physics behind a thermal effect, it is not his business. It’s not his interest.

            And i share you doubt.

            What i want to say about me is, i recognize right now, when i read about Hot Fusion i get highly triggered. (i understand why)
            I have really to think about it, there is no reason to hang in the past, i have to move forward. Thanks to all of you for that lesson!!!

          • Bob Greenyer

            Hot fusion does three things
            – Diverts many very capable researchers
            – Absorbs taxes that might be more effectively deployed
            – provides us a distraction through false hope whilst they sell us Hydrocarbon and other poor energy solutions.

    • Alain Samoun

      “The doomsayers need to STFU” Well, do you drive blindfolded? It is dangerous not to see or deny the obstacles to be solved.

      • Bob Greenyer

        Right, like – even when they have it ‘working’ it still produces stupid fast neutrons which really start to mess up the structure of the containment system.

  • Max Nozin

    Let’s celebrate 50th anniversary of being 20 years away from positive net power

  • Alan DeAngelis

    Leave them alone. It’s interesting psychopathology that’s worth studying.

    • Alan DeAngelis

      Even if they could get it to work, it would still be so unsophisticated when compared to LENR.

  • Frank Acland

    “Scientists say the dream about unlimited clean energy is about to come true”.


    Excerpt: “In just 15 years, the US will be producing unlimited amounts of nearly free, completely green energy. Not only would such an energy holy grail mean the end of humanity’s dependence on expensive fossil fuels, it would also be a panacea for climate change.

    Amazingly, this is not a science fiction. It’s actually about to become reality if a collaboration between MIT and Commonwealth Fusion Systems, a private company, is to be believed:

    • Omega Z

      Even if it were to become true, it would be well into 22nd century before a transition would be complete.
      “unlimited clean energy”

      Not a word about cost.
      At $1000 a barrel for Oil, it technically becomes unlimited because no one could afford enough of it to depleted it. Nature would produce more at a rate faster then it’s used. 🙂

  • Alan DeAngelis

    Do they need tritium for this thing to work?

    • Alan DeAngelis

      They could get it from a F&P cell.

  • Rene

    And within a week everything including the concrete shield walls will have been activated into a radioactive mess.

  • Axil Axil

    Fusion is neutron rich and energy poor, fission is energy rich and neutron poor.

    Question: Can fusion make an impact?
    • My answer:
    • Pure fusion? NO! Its most optimistic proponents admit this.
    • Fission suppressed hybrid fusion, or fusion breeding, YES!, if the program is willing to change its focus and pursue it with laser like focus and if the time scale for impact is mid century

  • sam

    Trouble for Lockheed’s fusion reactor? Device that could ‘solve the world’s energy crisis’ is 100 times larger than first planned

  • interstellar hobo

    So clearly you know all that could be known about confining plasma at milions of kelvin. Please share your expertise on why the Wendelstein machine is ridiculous. The world could benefit from the wisdom, I am certain. How do you propose doing it? Polywell? Toroids? Surrounding the plasma in a liquid metal slurry? Secret sauce? Do tell..They are reaching 100MK now. You don’t accomplish that with some pipe, a flow meter, and hype. I realize everyone wants to see LENR work. I do too. But petty tribalism is just silly. These large scale approaches are just as important, and probably moreso.

  • This reminds me of that joke that says that for the past fifty years hot fusion has been the energy of the future, and, at this rate, it always will be. It might still be an academic achievement, even if there are better technologies for energy generation.

    • Andy Kumar

      Hot fusion has always been energy of the “FUTURE.”
      On the other hand, LENR has always been energy of the PAST with so many working reactors demonstrated in the past and none available for the present.

  • Alan DeAngelis

    50 years ago, the goal was to have deuterium-deuterium fusion then they lowered the bar and the goal became the easier tritium-deuterium reaction. So (IF I HAVE IT RIGHT), like the E-Cat, lithium will be consumed to make tritium for the hot fusion reactor. So, which (hot fusion vs the E-Cat) will most efficiently use the planet’s lithium?

    • Alan DeAngelis


      Actually, Les Case’s “football’ turned deuterium gas into helium (without a lithium electrolyte). At 36:36 min.

      • Alan DeAngelis

        My OCD is kicking in again.

        The palladium nucleus, Pd of palladium deuteride, PdD2 absorbs its deuterons, D (as an even number of deuterons are involved in the Mitsubishi transmutations) to become cadmium in an excited state, Cd*(that would contain far more energy than the 4-8 MeV needed for it to undergo alpha, He decay via tunneling).

        PdD2 > Cd*

        Cd* > Pd + He


        D2 > He 24 MeV

  • franco

    With any luck, we’ll all live for 200 years – they are sure to have hot fusion over unity by then 😉

  • Bob Greenyer

    still sounds really messy and complicated.

  • Ged

    “Small” problem eh ;)? Also how do you perform maintancence? What if it breaks (answer, very weird and dangerous stuff ensues as it doesn’t simply fall to Earth)? Space elevator has too many impracticalities. But even at this point it seems more realistic than the perpetual 15 years away hot fusion.

  • Vinney

    At least all the Hot Fusion industry developments in Electromagnets and lasers will have spin-offs in space exploration.
    The lasers can provide energy for the EM drive, powering probes initially.
    The large electromagnets can provide spacecraft with an artificial gravity initially, but may be utilized in the Warp drive;

    But for energy for all these inventions we will require the ‘direct-to-electricity’ E-cat, which will be circa 2015 (if Andrea Rossi is still around).