An alternative to “old fashioned” deuterium-tritium fusion

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

HB11 Energy proposes an alternative to “old fashioned” deuterium-tritium fusion, laser hydrogen-boron fusion:

A scientific paper accepted for publication describes the road map that has deemed the approach by one of the founders with his team as a viable approach based on the experimentally confirmed reaction gains one billion times higher than the classical values, placing it far ahead any DT fusion approaches.

Other advantages: Unlike deuterium-tritium fusion and fission techniques, the HB11 reaction is sufficiently clean with respect to production of any harmful byproducts or radiation. It also has the potential to create electricity directly without the need for a heat exchanger and steam turbine to generate electricity as required for coal or fission nuclear power stations. This will allow power stations to be built with a relatively small capital investment and footprint based on presently achieved extreme laser technology.

We expect to be able to provide energy for about one-quarter of the price of coal fired power, without any carbon emissions or radioactive by-products, which will be disruptive to the power industry. With the small size and footprint of a HB11 power station, the addressable market is expected to reach further than the power grid to applications such as ships, submarines, large factories or to remote locations such as isolated towns and mine sites.


  1. Candide III says:

    P-B11 has been around in various modifications for decades. It never amounts to anything except attract a fresh batch of gullible investors who don’t know much physics. Wikipedia article for aneutronic fusion does a good job outlining the problems; given our limited success with less challenging reactions, I’d say the prospects of P-B11 are non-existent. These guys’ paper on arxiv starts out with three paragraphs on global warming and Al Gore, mentions how many millions of dollars will a reactor yield in the same section with some amateurishly typeset equations and a fishy graph, and is badly written overall. Color me unimpressed.

  2. Spandrell says:

    I was waiting for Candide’s comment. But yeah, bummer. Expected bummer.

  3. Isegoria says:

    Don’t be bummed, Spandrell. We should expect working fusion in another 20–25 years.

  4. Kirk says:


    Which is what the smart people have been telling me since I was a kid, back in the mid- to late 1970s.

    Oh, well… One day, it will be true. I think we’d be smarter to pursue thorium-cycle fission, because we’re pretty sure that will work with the technology we have now.

  5. Isegoria says:

    Exactly, Kirk. Fusion is always 20 years away. AI, too.

  6. Candide III says:

    Uranium fission is not to be discounted either, especially if we can get rid of the pressurized water, work on fast neutrons and figure out in-place (in-reactor is best) reprocessing and use most of the natural uranium instead of a couple percent like we do now with the once-through nuclear fuel “cycle”. The French are working on pyroprocessing to replace the extremely messy water-based PUREX process.

  7. Sam J. says:

    “…working fusion in another 20–25 years…”

    HAHHA Hmmm…where have I heard that before???

    There’s a paper I read once where they fired nukes in a cavern, made by nukes, and then used steam to make power. It would work just fine. We have a lot of experience in nuking in tunnels for nuclear testing.

    As for nuclear I think molten salts are the way to go. Even of there’s an accident the stuff would run out on the ground and freeze like lead poured on the ground. You then get a robot to scrape it up.

    Pressurized water reactors were the surest bet when Rickover wanted to make nuclear submarines. That was what we had that we knew worked so Rickover used it. We kept using them because even if it was inferior tech it offered little financial risk. You knew the cost.

    As for lasers and fusion, lasers are getting ten times more powerful every 3 years.

    So this could be made to work in the future. It seems to me that everything is going faster and faster. Tech is increasing by leaps and bounds every day. I’m old enough to remember when the plastic Bakelite was still around. It was on its way out, but there was a lot of it still around. Things have changed a lot and it’s really speeding up.

  8. Isegoria says:

    That would be Project Gnome, Sam, the first project of Project Plowshare — and I can’t believe I haven’t blogged on it before. Expect that to be remedied shortly.

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