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US and Iranian physicists team up to launch "Fusion for Peace" initiative
Fusion researchers in both countries call for cooperation on peaceful clean energy as an alternative to conflict.
The proposal, published in the online newspaper OpEdNews, calls on the US and Iranian governments to set up a joint US-Iran Aneutronic Fusion Program to research methods of producing nuclear fusion energy without the production of neutrons. Aneutronic fusion devices can be extremely compact and economical to build, so they can be researched far more quickly and cheaply than the deuterium-tritium fusion devices that have been the mainline of fusion research. In the past few years, Iran and the US have become the leading countries pursuing this category of fusion devices. If they can be developed, they would provide safe, clean energy far more cheaply than uranium-based nuclear fission, and would thus make the entire uranium enrichment cycle obsolete.
The Iranian and US scientists have already been collaborating informally, exchanging ideas and data, but are calling for a joint project to greatly accelerate this research. Until the past year, aneutronic fusion, which requires temperatures of billions of degrees, was considered simply too difficult by most researchers. However recent results, including news that was published March 23rd in the respected peer-reviewed journal Physics of Plasmas, have shown that such extreme temperatures can be produced and confined using small devices. One such device, called the dense plasma focus (DPF), can be built for only a few hundred thousand dollars, and Iran now has set up more of these devices -- six and counting -- than any other country in the world. The US is the only other country with active aneutronic fusion efforts, but such research largely depends on private support.
About the image: The aneutronic fusion reaction of the common isotopes protium (regular hydrogen) and Boron-11 is superimposed over an upraised peace sign, which originated from the semaphore letters N and D, for "Nuclear Disarmament."
The scientists’ statement says that “aneutronic fusion could make uranium enrichment obsolete because, if it works, aneutronic fusion-produced electricity would be cheaper than any available today. Aneutronic fuels produce energy that can be converted directly into electricity, without going through the expensive cycle of generating steam and putting it through turbines. Such an ideal energy source would be far cheaper than nuclear fission energy based on uranium, which is what we call nuclear energy today. There would be no reason for Iran or any other country to continue to pursue fission energy for peaceful purposes. To prevent nuclear weapon proliferation, the use of uranium could be universally banned as nuclear fission energy production was shut down.”
The scientists call on the two governments to “rapidly establish two Aneutronic Fusion Centers, one in the US and one in Iran, staffed by scientists and engineers from both countries and funded by the governments in proportion to their respective national GDPs. These Centers would work in cooperation with existing research groups, but with greater resources could speed up the work several-fold. Research results would be fully shared by the two countries. As the project grows, other countries not now involved in aneutronic work can join in.”
The scientists are urging other researchers and concerned citizens to join in this call. A petition aimed at the US administration is circulating at FusionForPeace.org.
For further info---
Fusion for Peace website: http://FusionForPeace.org
Original Op-Ed by Eric Lerner, Dr. Hamid Yousefi, and Dr. Morteza Habibi: http://www.opednews.com/
Physics of Plasma article showing new promise for aneutronic fusion: http://pop.aip.org/
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Fusion For Peace is a proposal started by US and Iranian physicists for peaceful international cooperation to defuse international tensions and accelerate clean energy