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Tired of waiting for nuclear fusion? Crowdfund it!

Posting in Energy

Eric and the electrodes. LPP president Dr. Eric Lerner checks the electrode assembly on his fusion machine.

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Nuclear fusion has been 30 years away ever since scientists started working on it in the 1950s.

Critics say that this Holy Grail of an energy source will always remain in the future, because physicists and engineers will never overcome the fundamental problem that it takes more energy to run a fusion machine than what the machine delivers.  Adding to the skepticism: Two of the giant government-backed fusion projects - ITER in France and NIF in Livermore, California - do not think they'll meaningfully crack the challenge for decades.

Tired of waiting? Be part of the solution!

A small New Jersey company that believes it can succeed long before the behemoths do will soon start raising money through a crowdfunding campaign (for those who might not know, crowdfunding is the practice of raising donations from common - and uncommon - folk via Internet sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo).

The company, Lawrenceville Plasma Physics (LPP), will put together the financial initiative in partnership with a group called the Focus Fusion Society. LPP is developing a type of fusion called "aneutronic" that generates electricity directly from the machine. Other forms of fusion would use heat from hot neutrons to drive a turbine and generate electricity. LPP says on its website:

LPP and Focus Fusion Society will, in the next few months, be initiating a major crowd-funding project to help fund our work to achieve inexpensive, clean, eco-safe and abundant energy. We need volunteers to help us teach the world about this great project. We need YOU!

LPP is one of several privately held fusion companies angling for the fusion prize before the ITERs (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) and NIFs (National Ignition Facility) get there. Others include Tri-Alpha (another aneutronic firm), Helion Energy, General Fusion, and Lockheed Martin.

Fusion promises abundant, clean and safe energy. Dig deep, or dig for some spare change, and you could help deliver it.

Photo from Focus Fusion Society via Flickr

More fusion on SmartPlanet:

All sorts of alternative nuclear stories here, including thorium, molten salt, pebble beds, fast reactors, modular reactors, fusion and more.

— By on September 3, 2013, 8:05 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure