Profitable HIF Power Production
Fusion Power Corporation's objective is to deliver fusion energy to the world. This can be accomplished within this decade, using mature technology that is employed in numerous industries and areas of research. The process is known as RF Accelerator Driven Heavy Ion Fusion (HIF). Properly designed, this process can be very profitable.
In 1976 a group of renowned scientists, including several Nobel laureates, met for a workshop on HIF in Berkeley, CA1. After a two week long examination of the state of the art of the technology then available, the participants concluded that a fusion power plant could be built using a radio frequency (RF) accelerator to drive inertial confinement fusion (ICF). They concluded that there were no insurmountable obstacles. Technically, this was true, but there was, in fact, an obstacle that caused the effort to come essentially to a halt, in spite of that extremely promising start. The unappreciated obstacle was economics.
HIF systems need to be big. Big means large output and it also means large initial investment. In the 1980s and 1990s the low cost of energy could not justify big. But that has all changed in this new century. Now there is an ever-increasing need for more and more energy from all over the globe. The need for BIG sources of energy is clear from the rapid rise of energy costs, as old sources begin to deplete or meet political or public opposition. HIF’s bigness is now a powerful positive.
Solving the economic dilemma requires reconsideration of the assumption that the only product of fusion power is electricity. Stable functioning of the electricity grid requires geographical distribution of appropriately sized power stations. The electricity industry is based on power stations that each contribute from one thousand to five thousand Megawatts to the grid. But electricity comprises only part of the world’s energy supply. Fusion can produce synthetic liquid fuels as well as electricity. Our solution to produce both liquid fuels and electricity capitalizes on HIF’s economies of scale.
Examinations of using nuclear energy to produce synthetic
fuels have concluded that the processes are sound. A study by the
Los Alamos National Laboratory, for example, evaluated production of liquid fuels via Mobil’s methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) process. To achieve the greenest fuel source, the study incorporated carbon dioxide extracted from the air, as well as hydrogen produced via the energy from advanced fission reactors. The market price of synthetic gasoline estimated by the study begins to be competitive in
today’s market. FPC's first cost advantage is the lower cost of our fusion heat, because of the cost savings that will accrue from the inherent safety of fusion amplified by HIF's economies of scale. Thus, the strong outlook for competitiveness of synthetic fuels in the near term, that is, when operations start at FPC's first energy site 10 years from now, is not only in view of the upward trend of energy prices.
Combining production of electricity with production of
hydrogen for synthetic fuel removes the economic barrier that has held HIF
back. Consider a reaction chamber capable of producing the heat of three large
coal-fired boilers or a standard fission power plant: 10,000 Megawatts, in round
numbers. With this power chamber as the basic unit, the model for consideration
is a site consisting of some number of these units, each capable of producing
50,000 barrels of liquid fuel per day simultaneously with delivering over 50-100,000 Megawatt-hours of
electricity per day to the grid.
This has a potential economic value of US$ 3-4 Billion per year. Using the HIF accelerator’s ability to
drive numerous reaction chambers, a three-chamber system, altogether costing
perhaps US$ 30 Billion, offers an annual return of US$ 9-12 Billion. This is enough to pay its operating
expenses, retire its indebtedness, and achieve a modest profit. And a fully developed ten-chamber
system could produce 500,000 barrels of synthetic fuel per day. This is comparable to the output of a
giant oil field, without the natural decline in production that is inherent in
the extraction of fossil fuels.
The time for fusion has
arrived. Fusion is an inherently safe process that, used properly, produces
little radioactive byproduct. The inventory of radioactive fuel in fusion
systems is measured in grams, not tons as in fission systems. Strongly complementing
these fundamental advantages, our fusion system reduces activation of structural materials by neutron transmutation to uniquely low levels.
Because FPC's chambers will have service lives greater than 30 years, long term needs for materials are low. Any fusion system will have a low carbon footprint, but production of synthetic gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel with FPC's system will lower the net CO2 emissions from the overall use of energy in the economy. And if the CO2 to make synthetic fuel is taken from the atmosphere, the
resulting fuel will be carbon-neutral—very, very green.
Our society has a great need for the energy fusion can deliver, and many of our current insecurities and economic ills will be greatly reduced if fusion becomes our primary new green and essentially non-depletable source of energy.
FPC believes strongly that its patent-pending methods and processes for power production offer the most economical, the safest, and the most environmentally benign of any proposed solution to the global energy challenge.
(1) Proceedings of the ERDA Summer Study of Heavy Ions for Inertial Fusion, Claremont Hotel, Oakland/Berkeley, CA, July 19-30, 1976 (LBL-5543)
(2) Green Freedom™ for carbon-neutral, sulfur-free fuel and
chemical production, F. Jeffrey Martin, William L Kubic, Jr. Los Alamos
National Laboratory, 2007 (LANL)