The Fusion Myth

Politicians are promising that the construction of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in France will lead to the development of fusion reactors that can generate an infinite supply of clean energy. Unfortunately, politicians know little about the scientific issues involved.

France is now rushing to construct the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, (ITER), which is supposed to show that nuclear fusion can be used to power nuclear power stations. ITER is often presented as the long-term solution to the problem of global warming, because nuclear fusion can provide an infinite and clean source of energy. But ITER will do nothing of the sort.

In the fission reactions that nuclear power generation relies on today, heavy elements such as uranium break into smaller ones, while in nuclear fusion small elements such as hydrogen stick together and form heavier elements (helium). Both fission and fusion produce a lot of energy.

Some political leaders explain that nuclear fusion is at work in the sun, and that, thanks to ITER, we will harness it. They often add that, since fusion burns hydrogen, which can be found in seawater, it is an infinite source of energy.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/oi1VaBI;
  1. An employee works at a chemical fiber weaving company VCG/Getty Images

    China in the Lead?

    For four decades, China has achieved unprecedented economic growth under a centralized, authoritarian political system, far outpacing growth in the Western liberal democracies. So, is Chinese President Xi Jinping right to double down on authoritarianism, and is the “China model” truly a viable rival to Western-style democratic capitalism?

  2. The assembly line at Ford Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

    Whither the Multilateral Trading System?

    The global economy today is dominated by three major players – China, the EU, and the US – with roughly equal trading volumes and limited incentive to fight for the rules-based global trading system. With cooperation unlikely, the world should prepare itself for the erosion of the World Trade Organization.

  3. Donald Trump Saul Loeb/Getty Images

    The Globalization of Our Discontent

    Globalization, which was supposed to benefit developed and developing countries alike, is now reviled almost everywhere, as the political backlash in Europe and the US has shown. The challenge is to minimize the risk that the backlash will intensify, and that starts by understanding – and avoiding – past mistakes.

  4. A general view of the Corn Market in the City of Manchester Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

    A Better British Story

    Despite all of the doom and gloom over the United Kingdom's impending withdrawal from the European Union, key manufacturing indicators are at their highest levels in four years, and the mood for investment may be improving. While parts of the UK are certainly weakening economically, others may finally be overcoming longstanding challenges.

  5. UK supermarket Waring Abbott/Getty Images

    The UK’s Multilateral Trade Future

    With Brexit looming, the UK has no choice but to redesign its future trading relationships. As a major producer of sophisticated components, its long-term trade strategy should focus on gaining deep and unfettered access to integrated cross-border supply chains – and that means adopting a multilateral approach.

  6. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now