Nuclear and Atomic Physics


Cost of Tritium Fusion Energy

Authors: Alexander Bolonkin, Zarek Newman

For the past sixty years, scientists have spent approximately one hundred billion dollars in an attempt to develop tritium thermonuclear energy. They were unsuccessful. No stable thermonuclear reactions were achieved. Current plans are to design an expensive, but workable industrial installation. It will cost tens of billions of US dollars and will possibly only begin to produce electric energy 15 – 20 years from now. Even if the new designs were viable, they are economically unfeasible. Currently, Tritium is used for fusion ignition because the tritium-deuterium thermonuclear reaction (T+D) has the lowest ignition temperature (≈100 million degree) in contrast to deuterium thermonuclear reaction (D+D) which has a fusion ignition temperature 50 - 100 times hotter. This paper demonstrates that because tritium fuel is very expensive ($30,000/gram and more), the electricity generated by the tritium thermonuclear reactor will cost (≈ $1/kwh), at least 10 times more than conventional sources of energy (≈ $0.1/kwh, 2015). Even using Li-6, Li-7 blankets to breed tritium from fusion reactions cannot be a full solution, because, as we will show, they can only restore a maximum of 30% of the expensive tritium fuel. Hundreds of billions of dollars were spent in vain over the past sixty years for R&D of tritium fusion. It is the costliest mistake in the history of science! Research and Development (R&D) of huge, very expensive tritium fusion installations should be abandoned and in its stead, develop viable and economically feasible, inexpensive, small reactors that use deuterium fuel and high temperatures. That decreases the fuel cost by 30,000 times. Viable designs of small thermonuclear reactors have been offered by senior author in [8,9] where an analysis of the problems with the various configurations of the new small and cheap fusion reactors are detailed therein.

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[v1] 2017-02-15 14:15:29

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