Norman is the name of TAE’s 100-foot-long prototype nuclear fusion reactor, a magnificent assemblage of stainless-steel vessels, electromagnets and particle accelerator tubes. Once every eight minutes Norman emits a clang, as it transforms 100 million watts of electricity into a cloud of 30-million-degree Celsius plasma that it blasts with beams of protons (the simplest form of hydrogen). They smash together with enough force to fuse into helium—releasing copious amounts of energy in the process. Fission, which powers several hundred nuclear plants, is the splitting of uranium atoms into medium-size atoms to release energy. Fusion, which makes the stars glow, goes the other way, combining small atoms into larger ones to release energy. Fission carries the risk of a meltdown and creates radioactive waste that has to be set aside for 10,000 years. Fusion promises to be meltdown-proof and waste-free. Solar cells can be made at a cost of a dollar per watt of peak-time generation capacity. Maybe TAE could get the price of building a fusion generator down to $1.50 per watt, at which point its electricity would be cheaper than solar because it doesn’t go off at night. Forbes

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