Nuclear fusion is the same reaction that powers the sun. It involves fusing together hydrogen atoms, a process that produces enormous energy - so much so that its proponents suggest it would be essentially limitless, able to power human civilization indefinitely.
"Fusion energy research offers the tantalizing promise of clean, safe, sustainable energy," said Karen Chad, U of S vice-president research. "We're committed, with our partners, to developing knowledge to help address the challenge of the 1.3 billion people in our world who do not have access to electricity."
Fusion generates neither pollution nor greenhouse gases, and the hydrogen isotopes needed for fuel are easily available. Fusion plants also cannot suffer meltdowns and do not produce long-lived radioactive waste.
One of the many challenges in realizing the dream of fusion power is to develop materials that are able to face and withstand conditions at the heart of the reactor. There, carefully balanced magnetic fields hold captive a state of matter called plasma - essentially a miniature sun burning at tens of millions of degrees Celsius.
Over the next year, General Fusion is engaging Hirose's Plasma Physics Laboratory (plasma.usask.ca) in the Department of Physics and Engineering Physics to test these "plasma-facing materials." The agreement includes partial funding from the National Research Council Industry Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) Business Innovation Access Program.
Hirose and his team will use their plasma diagnostic expertise to measure density, temperature and magnetic fields of the plasmas after they enter a chamber containing the material samples. The goal is to both test materials' performance and to guide development of operating procedures for the company's prototype fusion reactor.
Hirose, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Plasma Science, operates Canada's leading plasma physics laboratory. It is home of the STOR-M tokamak experimental fusion reactor for energy production research, as well as research on the use of plasmas in advanced manufacturing technologies for industry and medicine.
About General Fusion:
General Fusion is developing the fastest, most practical, and lowest-cost path to commercial fusion energy. Established in 2002, the company is supported by a global syndicate of energy venture capital funds, industry leaders, and technology pioneers, including: Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, Bezos Expeditions, Braemar Energy Ventures, Cenovus Energy, Entrepreneurs Fund, Growthworks, BDC, Chrysalix SET, and Sustainable Development Technology Canada. www.generalfusion.com
Media Relations Specialist
University of Saskatchewan