Fusion Technology has developed rapidly. We are now able to identify a route that can be taken immediately to start development of a fusion torch plant for recycling. The fusion development needed for electricity production, however, is different from the type currently being pursued by the US Department of Energy and its international counterparts. That approach will generate considerable neutron and radioactive material involvement, due to the use of deuterium-tritium fuel which will burn at lower “temperature” than p-B11. To avoid the complication of radioactivity in the process, the use of a special fusion fuel p-B11 is proposed. This fuel consists of hydrogen which is ionized to create hydrogen ions, or protons, and boron-11, one of two isotopes in natural boron, the other being boron-10. When these elements react or “burn” in a fusion reactor, the reaction products turn out to be energetic helium ions, which can be used both for heating the plasma and for energy recovery. Both fuels are plentiful with reasonable cost. For years, burning p-B11 was thought to be a long-term goal since the plasma “temperatures” involved are well above that in conventional fusion experiments. However, in recent years, a new approach, Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) fusion has been developed. Unlike the well known magnetic confinement field, the IEC uses an electrostatic field for confinement, simplifying the structures needed for field generation. Using this concept, a relatively simple device can achieve the needed plasma temperature to burn this special fusion fuel. This potential has been demonstrated on a preliminary bench-scale IEC unit; so the next step, proposed as the initial objective of the recycle project, would be a proof-of-principle experiment to demonstrate the ability to obtain breakeven energy operation of a p-B11 IEC device. That would be followed by scale-up to a small demonstration p-B11 fusion torch recycle unit. To ultimately handle the world’s large volume of materials requiring recycling, large GWe size plants, providing concurrent power and materials recycling, would be commercialized and strategically placed worldwide. Fortunately, due to its simplicity, the IEC can be built and scaled up at costs much less than that for comparable power level magnetic confinement fusion devices like the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, now starting in France. Thus, the “fast track” development path proposed here becomes feasible.
The p-B11 fusion reactor which drives the materials recycle fusion torch concurrently opens the way to other green power applications for terrestrial electrical and syn-fuel production and also for mobile applications such a deep space rocket propulsion. In these applications, the ability to apply direct energy conversion techniques to the charged particle flow in the jet plasma extracted from the reaction chamber make these operations efficient and economical. This ability to address a number of key sustainability issues that society is facing is remarkable and fortuitous.