Could Norman Power the World?

Updated: Apr 21

This nuclear reactor just made fusion viable by 2030. Seriously. Nuclear fusion has long felt like decades away. Today, the timeline accelerates.

California based TAE Technologies, the world’s largest private fusion company, has announced it will have a commercially viable nuclear fusion power plant by 2030, which puts it years - or even decades - ahead of other fusion technology companies.

In order to avoid the mind-boggling complexities of the process, TAE is going about things very differently to the industry’s perhaps higher-profile projects, like the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) that's financed by seven of the world’s largest energy powerhouses: the European Union, United Kingdom China, India, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

Nuclear fusion, of course, produces virtually no waste, making it a climate friendly, safe, and reliable source of near unlimited power - if we can get one to work. And TAE thinks it has cracked it.

TAE’s current working reactor is nicknamed Norman, after the scientist (Norman Rostoker) who co-founded TAE in 1998. The reactor is 80 feet long, 22 feet wide, and 60,000 pounds. This still makes it far smaller than almost any existing nuclear power plant reactor.

TAE has just announced that Norman has consistently reached the 50 million degrees Celsius required to become a sustaining plasma reactor. There are two colloquial terms for what fusion energy requires: “hot enough” and “long enough” to end up fruitfully producing energy.

TAE says Norman has been running over 600 experiments each month, reaching the plasma “ignition,” or self sustaining for energy, temperature each time.

This means 6 years after TAE began to reach “long enough,” Norman has finally reached “hot enough” frequently enough that it can begin to scale up for commercial power plants. And this is why the company says it feels it can build that kind of power plant by the end of the decade in 2030. If so, that would be seriously good news.