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The search for clean, abundant energy

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Oxford-based energy generation and inertial confinement fusion research organisation, First Light Fusion is investing £3.6 million to build a pulsed power machine to advance the company’s work exploring fusion.

The device, labelled Machine 3, is under construction and on track to be commissioned by the end of 2018. It will be the only pulsed power machine of its scale in the world dedicated to researching fusion energy. Once complete, it will be capable of discharging up to 200,000 volts and in excess of 14 million ampere within two microseconds. The Machine will use around 3km of high voltage cables and another 10km of diagnostic cables.

Machine 3 will be used to further research First Light Fusion’s technology as the company seeks to achieve first fusion. The next step in the technological development will be to achieve ‘gain’, whereby the amount of energy created outstrips that used to spark the reaction, the same process that powers stars.

First Light uses a high-velocity projectile to create a shockwave to collapse a cavity containing plasma inside a ‘target’.

The company’s approach was inspired by the only example of inertial confinement found on Earth – the pistol shrimp, which clicks its claw to produce a shockwave that stuns its prey. The only other naturally occurring inertial confinement phenomenon is a supernova. The reaction created by the collapsing cavity is what creates energy, which can then be captured and used.

Fusion has already been demonstrated by other approaches. The two most advanced are the tokamak and laser-driven inertial fusion. ITER, being built in the south of France, will be the world’s largest tokamak, aiming to demonstrate gain. The National Ignition Facility (NIF) in California is the world’s most energetic laser and is also aiming to demonstrate gain. Both these projects have encountered difficulties, both relating to the fusion process itself but also the complexity of the engineering required. First Light must demonstrate fusion before undertaking an equivalent gain-scale experiment. However, if First Light succeeds in the fundamental demonstration of fusion, the pathway to gain and a power plant is potentially simpler, quicker and cheaper than these mainstream approaches.

First Light’s approach to fusion, which is safe, clean and virtually limitless, has the potential to transform the world’s energy supply if it can be applied successfully to power generation. Unlike existing nuclear power, there is no long-lived waste, and raw materials can be found in abundance. As demand for alternatives to carbon-based energy grows, mainstream scientists and research institutions are looking to fusion power to answer the world’s energy requirements.

Nicholas Hawker, Founder and CEO of FLF said: “We are confident that we will reach our present goal of demonstrating fusion. Beyond that, the experimental platform that we can build with this machine will give us critical insights into the next step, which is to demonstrate gain.”


14 Comments on "The search for clean, abundant energy"

  1. dave thompson on Wed, 14th Mar 2018 3:40 pm 

    “First Light’s approach to fusion, which is safe, clean and virtually limitless”

    Will it also be “to cheap to meter”?

  2. Go Speed Racer on Wed, 14th Mar 2018 4:21 pm 

    Clean abundant energy?


    Burn old furniture.

  3. dave thompson on Wed, 14th Mar 2018 5:16 pm 

    Go Speed Racer, Lets not forget the power of a good tire fire too.

  4. Go Speed Racer on Wed, 14th Mar 2018 5:51 pm 

    That’s the frosting on the cake….
    Tires go on top of the furniture.

    But only if the neighbors are home.

  5. dave thompson on Wed, 14th Mar 2018 7:06 pm 

    AND the wind is blowing the right way.

  6. Anonymouse1 on Thu, 15th Mar 2018 12:22 am 

    We should pay attention to this people. This fusion power will be based on shrimp power. Yes, you read that correctly, SHRIMP will show us the way to clean, safe, endless nuclear energy, who knew? If someone said to me a couple days ago, Mouse, shrimp power = fusion power, I would have said something like, “Your a fooking retard you know that?”. And…now that I think about, I still feel exactly that way right now.

    Now I like shrimp, especially the shrimp chicken combo at one of our local Japanese restaurants. They have ginger sauce I dip my shrimp in and I cant get enough of it it. Great on my rice too. What does any of this have to do nuclear fusion?

    Hell if I know, but if anyone wants to send me £3.6 million pounds, I can probably whip something up for ya.

    Like some BBQ chicken and shrimp perhaps?

  7. dave thompson on Thu, 15th Mar 2018 2:38 am 

    “Like some BBQ chicken and shrimp perhaps?” OH YEA, come on down once we get the furniture/tire grill going we is hav’in us a energy PARTY!

  8. Go Speed Racer on Thu, 15th Mar 2018 3:48 am 


  9. Go Speed Racer on Thu, 15th Mar 2018 9:57 am 

    Me an Dave are gonna punch a brand new
    hole in the ozone layer.

    And to fix the global warming, we’re gonna
    plug that ozone hole, with a
    great big window mount air conditioner.

  10. Go Speed Racer on Thu, 15th Mar 2018 10:05 am 

    … then we plug it into a nukyalur power plant
    and cool down the whole Earth.

  11. Newfoundlander on Thu, 15th Mar 2018 10:53 am 

    And it’s only ten years away. Gosh.

  12. Anonymouse1 on Thu, 15th Mar 2018 2:12 pm 

    I can go down fisherman’s wharf today and get me some shrimp. The rest you can wait 20 years for fusion shrimp to arrive if you like, but I going to have clean unlimited shrimp salad, I mean fusion today today. Or maybe tomorrow (weather permitting).

  13. dave thompson on Thu, 15th Mar 2018 2:22 pm 

    Wich way dat wind ta blow’in? WE got us a energy shrimp boat load-o-happiness, now put another tire on the fire.

  14. Kenz300 on Fri, 16th Mar 2018 12:07 pm 

    Quit searching.

    Wind and solar are here now and they are safer, cleaner and cheaper than any alternatives.

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