A tiny Virginia startup called NearStar Fusion has a bold new approach to achieving the holy grail of energy.
NearStar Fusion believes it can harness modern railgun technology to achieve abundant green energy more efficiently than fusion dependent on lasers. Which are, as you probably know, the currently preferred route (at numerous facilities around the world) of trying to achieve abundant clean energy through nuclear fusion.
NearStar doesn't use lasers. Instead, they are firing plasma railguns at hydrogen fuel to ignite the fusion reaction. The world is taking note, as this method promises to drastically reduce the energy input required and, theoretically, should make achieving commercial viability easier.
NearStar builds on recent advances like the National Ignition Facility using lasers to spark fusion energy output. But reaching the break-even point where fusion output exceeds input remains elusive. By substituting railguns to generate the key plasma state cheaper, NearStar aims to clear that barrier. The company envisions fusion plants run by mechanics instead of scientists, once the technology matures.
Its leaders believe all the components they need already exist thanks to modern railgun research - they just need to simplify the architecture.
If achieved, this “Wright brothers moment” could transform global energy supply and end our dependence on fossil fuels. But first, NearStar needs its railgun recipe to cook up a fusion reaction showing commercial viability. That really would be something to shout about!