A hot fusion reactor would cost $3 billion to build and Italy’s national oil company might be ready to foot the bill. That is the message from the head of development operations and technology at Eni S.P.A. (NYSE: E).
“After the transition to renewable energy, the real breakthrough technologically is nuclear fusion,” Robert Casula told Reuters. Casula thinks it would cost $3 billion to develop and build a 200-megawatt fusion reactor and it might be up and running by 2033.
The reactor would power around 75,000 homes; or a city about the size of Santa Fe, New Mexico. This estimate is based on the standard calculation that a megawatt is enough electricity for 750 homes.
A megawatt is one million watts of electricity, so the reactor would generate 200 million watts of electricity. That reactor would have the capacity to generate electricity as soon as it was up and running.
Is Hot Fusion 15 years away?
Eni has already invested around $50 million Commonwealth Fusion Systems a startup that is trying to commercialize the hot fusion research done at MIT’s Plasma and Fusion Center (PFSC). PFSC Director Dennis Whyte has gone on record and said a working fusion reactor might be built with off the shelf technology within the decade.
Commonwealth Fusion hopes to build a 100-megawatt hot-fusion reactor called the SPARC using its proprietary superconducting electromagnets, MIT News reported. Eni’s stake in Commonwealth Fusion has not been decided yet because the companies have not signed a deal.
Eni apparently wants a deal that would give the right to use Commonwealth’s fusion power. One reason why Eni would want a hot fusion reactor is to generate electricity and heat for oil refineries which would greatly reduce its operating costs.
Eni is also proving $2 million to help finance the PSC’s Laboratory for Innovation in Fusion Technologies (LIFT), MIT News reported. The LIFT will conduct research and development into technologies needed to support hot-fusion; such as new superconducting magnets to contain superhot plasma, and artificial intelligence (AI) needed to design and run reactors.
The Ultimate Green Energy Source
Fusion would be infinitely cheaper and less-polluting than other energy sources because it does not generate any pollution.
Fusion reactors would have many uses including the disposal of waste materials from the oil and chemical industries. Since hot-fusion reactors generate temperatures of up to 200-million degrees they would be able to destroy almost any waste without creating pollution.
This would make hot fusion the ultimate green energy source because it would reduce green gases, and solve the problems of radioactive, chemical, hazardous, and biological waste. Fusion might also be able to get rid of most of the world’s trash.
It is easy to see why Eni is so interested in MIT’s fusion work. It might be worth untold billions of dollars to the company that commercializes it.