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Canada On Its Way to be Global Leader in Nuclear Fusion

Feb 01, 2017 07:09 AM EST

A Canada-based energy company is one of the many organizations lobbying for federal investments in nuclear fusion. If all goes according to plan, then Canada may be on its way to be a global power when it comes to nuclear fusion.

Scientists are calling on the federal government to invest more in fusion research as a way in order to produce massive amounts of clean energy and radically reduce dependence on fossil fuels. According to Michael Delage, the chief technology officer at Burnaby-based General Fusion, the goal is to develop a prototype fusion power plant by 2030 that could replace oil and gas.

Meanwhile, CBC notes that the company has joined a collective of Canadian universities and research labs that issued a report called Fusion 2030. The report states that Canada could very well become a major player in the nuclear fusion technology industry if the federal government allocates $125 million over the next five years to research and the academia.

Delage points out that fusion is not to be confused with fission -- as in releasing energy by breaking down a heavy atom. Fusion harnesses energy by replicating the same process that occurs in the sun, where hydrogen atoms are heated to extreme temperatures and are forced together to create helium. This releases a lot of energy that can theoretically power a grid. The perk is that these do not rely on fuel resources that are extracted from the ground and this produces very little waste.

The nuclear fusion trend can be the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to switching to clean energy. Fusion even has the highest energy density, the best energy payback ratio and the lowest  carbon footprint of all renewable energy sources. However, an additional $125 million is needed from provincial governments to build the plant. They will be spread on additional universities, research and industry with the hopes of eventually establishing the demonstration plant. The report suggests that private companies may also begin to commercialize the technology.  

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