Here is PAW’s biennial panegyric to the nonexistent fusion-energy nirvana (Campus Notebook, July 10). But the usual litany of imaginary fusion-reactor benefits has changed from “inexhaustible, clean, safe, and cheap” to “inexhaustible, clean, safe, available to all nations.” PPPL director Stewart Prager has dropped the erroneous attribute “cheap,” presumably because the fusion world is choking on the $20 billion price tag for ITER. But the claim “available to all nations” is fallacious, because the components of fusion reactors require uncommon elements, including the following: lithium (for tritium production), helium (for cooling), niobium (for magnets), beryllium (to face the plasma and to multiply neutrons). There are few countries with significant resources of these elements.
Actually, Prager’s “ideal attributes” apply to solar-photovoltaic and solar-thermal energy sources. They have nothing to do with manmade fusion.