Here again is PAW’s periodic paean to phantom energy development at PPPL (the last appeared in November 2019). 

The article states, “What has Cowley most excited are developments over the past decade in the understanding of how the super-hot, electrically charged gas known as plasma behaves in a fusion reactor. ‘And that’s mostly come out of Princeton,’ he said.”

Is that so? For the last decade the principal activity at PPPL has been generating computer simulations, for which each result is hailed as a “breakthrough” even if it has nothing to do with anything. That is what has “mostly come out of Princeton.”

The last time that PAW really swooned over PPPL was in April 2016, two months before PPPL’s “flagship” NSTX-U tokamak damaged its magnetic coils after a few weeks of operation, following five years of construction. The project has never recovered from that disaster, even after spending some $50 million per year for six years on a “recovery project,” with no end in sight. It is PPPL’s “forever war” and will finally implode like the expensive and fruitless forever war in Afghanistan.

As for the White House summit on fusion power last March, that event will be seen in hindsight as marking the peak of the current cycle of fusion frenzy, a periodic phenomenon. No matter how many billions are spent, practical fusion reactors remain a century away.

Daniel Jassby *70
Plainsboro, N.J.