Frequently Asked Questions
What is fusion energy?
- Fusion energy is exactly how the sun and every star in the sky create energy. Atomic nuclei are fused together, releasing vast amounts of power in the process.
How do you make fusion energy?
- On a basic level, fusion energy is made by heating hydrogen or other light elements to extremely high temperatures and pressures, causing them to fuse together and release tremendous amounts of energy.
- However, there are many different approaches to creating fusion energy. Fusion’s “family tree” is broad in both technology, scale, and geometry. For more information about the different approaches to creating fusion energy being pursued by FIA members, check out our Fusion Industry Report.
What are the potential benefits of fusion?
- Economic Benefits: Fusion energy has the potential to be a virtually unlimited and reliable source of electricity. This will greatly reduce dependence on non-renewable energy sources, such as fossil fuels, which are subject to price volatility and geopolitical risks. Plus, fusion devices require relatively small amounts of fuel to produce large amounts of energy, making them sustainable in the long term.
- The development and deployment of fusion energy technology will also lead to the creation of new industries and jobs in fields such as engineering, manufacturing, and energy production. Bloomberg states the Fusion Market could achieve a $40 trillion valuation and the UK listed fusion as part of its 10-Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.
- Environmental Benefits: Unlike traditional power plants that burn fossil fuels and release harmful pollutants into the atmosphere, fusion power does not emit greenhouse gases or other harmful pollutants. This will greatly reduce the impact of energy production on the environment and help combat climate change. And unlike nuclear fission, fusion devices produce no long-lived radioactive waste. In November 2022, the United States listed fusion as one of five key priorities towards net zero emissions.
- Geopolitical Benefits: The development and deployment of fusion energy technology will greatly reduce dependence on foreign energy sources, which can be subject to political instability and supply disruptions. Fusion energy will also provide a means for countries to reduce their carbon emissions and meet international climate goals, leading to greater cooperation and collaboration on environmental issues. The ability to produce fusion energy will give countries a competitive advantage in areas such as energy production, technology development, and scientific research.
What are the challenges associated with developing and deploying fusion energy technology?
- Some of the challenges associated with developing and deploying fusion energy technology include the high cost of research and development, the technical difficulties of achieving and maintaining the conditions necessary for fusion reactions, and the uncertainty of the commercial viability of fusion energy. All of these are currently being addressed.
What is the role of government in the development of fusion energy technology?
- Governments around the world play a key role in supporting the development of fusion energy technology by funding research and development, providing regulatory oversight, and promoting collaboration among industry, academia and research institutions. FIA works with policymakers to increase federal funding for fusion, develop public-private partnership programs, and advocate for regulatory frameworks that will ensure safety and accelerate fusion development and deployment. For more information about FIA’s policy positions and how we’re advancing them, visit our Policy page or “From The FIA” news page.
What is the difference between fusion and fission energy?
- Fusion energy is generated by combining atomic nuclei together. Fission energy is created by splitting atomic nuclei apart.
- Fusion requires very little fuel to produce massive amounts of energy. In fact, just one pound of fusion fuel is equivalent to 10 million pounds of coal! And unlike fission, fusion produces no long-lived radioactive waste, and cannot cause a runaway meltdown. For more information about how fusion energy is produced, check out our Learn About Fusion page.
Why is there no chance of a nuclear meltdown with fusion energy?
- There is no chance of a nuclear meltdown with fusion energy because the process of fusion only occurs under very specific and controlled conditions. If those conditions are not met, the reaction will simply stop and immediately stop producing energy.
What is the timeline for fusion energy commercialization?
- 88% of the private fusion industry believe that fusion power will be available and on the grid by the 2030s or sooner. Thanks to today’s scientific and technological tools – like high-speed computing and advanced manufacturing – we believe commercial fusion is closer than ever.
What is the fuel source for fusion?
- The fuel source for fusion is widely available. There are a variety of light elements that, at extreme conditions, will fuse into heavier elements. FIA members are pursuing fusion from a variety of fusion fuels, including from varieties of hydrogen such as deuterium and tritium, varieties of helium, or boron. More detail on the possible types of fusion fuel is available here.
How can I learn more about fusion energy?
- Check out our Learn About Fusion page to learn about how fusion works, its benefits and its future. You’ll also find lots of videos about fusion if you’d rather watch than read! For the latest fusion news, follow our YouTube Channel & Podcast for a digest of the latest fusion news every two weeks.