Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Monday, January 23, 2006

Fusion Rules

If all goes as announced, by the end of the summer, the Chicoms will have built and tested the first commercial grade fusion reactor in Hefei, capital city of east China`s Anhui Province. The work will be done by the Institute of Plasma Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The design of the Tokamak fusion reactor is of a western birthright, originating at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

Relatively recent was the announcement by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that they intend to build a larger Tokamak reactor in Europe with the help of the European Union, China, Switzerland, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and the United States. It will be called the ITER – a Latin word for “the way”. It is expected to fire up in 2016 (pardon the pun).

The Chicoms call their machine "EAST", or experimental advanced superconducting Tokamak (and I am certain no political intimation was intended). They are not waiting around for the IAEA, the progress of the ITER, the West or anyone and they have said that they are not only going to build the Tokamak but that they intend to light it off this year, 2006, in July or August! If the experiments prove successful, China will become the first country in the world to build a full superconducting experimental Tokamak fusion device.

Hmmm – is it just me or why is it that I am wondering about the obvious inconsistency here? What happened to the international cooperation under the ITER project? If the Chicoms know so much about fusion, then why are they not sharing their advanced knowledge under the IAEA and ITER framework of which they are equal members?

Well, oh well. The Chicoms have proven themselves to be brash, they are pushy, they are unafraid of the West or our opinions and they just can’t wait until 2016 to turn on their own artificial sun. Bully for them. Ten years BEFORE the ITER switch goes on and all of China will be alight with Fusion power! Good plan. Scary plan. It is the very embodiment of geopolitical power in gross imbalance.

Now Congress needs to take notice of this, make a formal apology to Jimmy Carter and one of the only things he did right in office, and that’s to declare our war on energy to be real and serious. Then we need to get down to business and put the American know-how onto the most important tasks of all history – making fusion a reality.

The nation that discovers the secrets to operational fusion power first will wake up on that morning as the most powerful nation in the planetary system by fiat. On that day, there will be no doubt who then rules the solar system.