The Future of Fusion

The fundamental features of fusion – inexhaustible fuel and large power density – would allow it to provide carbon-free energy at a scale needed to address climate change. Making clean, safe and economical fusion energy available to our society is a grand challenge of 21st century science and engineering. There is no known science stopping us from developing fusion energy; in fact the fundamental conditions needed to make fusion, such as achieving temperatures of 100 million degrees, have mostly been achieved, including in laboratories at MIT. Nonetheless many people wonder if fusion will be available in a timely manner since it has been long promised, but slow to become reality. Fusion has been delayed because its science was more complex than first imagined, and due to the large sizes of experimental facilities needed to explore fusion.

However, exploiting newly available technologies and science can accelerate the development of fusion energy. A host of new technologies, such as high-temperature superconductors and 3-D printing, provide exciting new opportunities to build small fusion devices, while fundamental understanding of the fusion science through advanced computing and measurement is providing greater confidence in the performance of fusion power plants. Bringing together these new opportunities in an integrated manner, all while training a new generation of fusion scientists, lies at the heart of our fusion energy mission at the PSFC.