Fusion reactors are the stuff of science fiction or the far-off future, right? Not according to General Fusion, a company that has raised millions of dollars to build a (hopefully) working prototype, possibly breaking down the ultimate energy barrier by accessing what may be the most cheap, easy and abundant source of fuel the world has ever seen.
The design itself is almost disturbing in its simplicity: a metal sphere just ten feet in diameter contains the entire reaction, with everything a sci-fi geek or script writer could hope for inside (including plasma rings, magnetic fields, liquid lithium and a central vortex). This lower-budget approach is, best of all, known as magnetized targeted fusion.
A fusion burst is triggered within this relatively low-tech device by impacts from the outer shell. The heat generated in the process generates power to turn a piston. Simple, right? Well, no one is completely sure it will work but clearly enough private investors and public funding sources feel secure enough to invest millions into the prototype.