Advantages and Need of Fusion

Potential advantages - Fusion has potential advantages as a safe, sustainable and environmentally attractive source of energy for electricity generation.

The need for fusion - Energy supplies are an essential requirement for economic growth and enhancement of life standards. To sustain and increase the present rate of world energy use, according to expectations for this century, there are only three large energy options available: solar energy, fission with breeding, and fusion.

Estimates of the world energy use indicate that the demand for energy, by the middle of the 21st Century, may significantly exceed the energy supplied by conventional sources. The shortfall in energy becomes larger after the depletion of fossil fuels, about 100 years in the future.

Comment - The question of energy demand is highly controversial. Maybe the world population will not grow at the expected rate and we are persisting on Malthus viewpoint that the population demand will always outrun the supply. Maybe a smaller, and controlled population, could live in a pastoral society and in selected places using solar energy during the lifetime of the Sun. However, it is quite certain that humanity will not be able to conquer new frontiers and may stay imprisoned on Earth if new, sustainable energy resources are not developed during the 21st century.

Technological spin-offs - Research in plasma physics and nuclear fusion already resulted in technological advancements for a variety of applications, notably in the areas of materials (processing, coatings, new materials), industrial processes (waste disposal, welding) and new technologies (plasma electronics, light sources, electric propulsion).

Plasma diagnostic instruments - Plasma and fusion research has lead to many instruments and techniques, first developed to diagnose plasma experiments but with a wide range of applications in other areas. Magnets, lasers, tomographic and interferometric imaging, remote handling and computerized control are presently used in biomedical applications among others. Advances in numerical computation, modeling and computer networking were in great part motivated by the need to solve the complex plasma problems related to fusion experiments. In fact, the first large scale computer network facility was established to study fusion plasma problems.

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