Fission, Fusion; What's The Difference?

Nuclear fission is the process currently used by the world's nuclear reactors; it produces large amounts of energy from small amounts of processed radioactive materials. It also leaves radioactive waste that must be safely disposed of, but which hangs around in a radioactive state for centuries (or millennia).

Nuclear fusion is the process most stars are fuelled by, including our Sun. The benefit of fusion is that small quantities of water can be used as fuel, and there is little or no waste to deal with. Great, except it has turned out to be very hard to accomplish in a controlled sustained manner here on Earth. However, we are now seeing some cash being pumped into research by investors, so maybe we will see some results in the coming years.
Two major tech investors have plowed $1.5 million into Helion Energy to help it develop a technology that hasn’t worked, despite decades of research and millions of research dollars.

Most of the money, $1.25 million, was given by Mithril Capital Management, a venture capital firm in San Francisco. Mithril co-founder Ajay Royan says his company pays special interest to “state-shift companies,” those that represent revolutionary change in their industries. Helion, he said, is one of them.

No company, big or small, has yet to build a reactor that can sustain nuclear fusion, a process that generates more energy than it consumes. Still, Royan says Helion, of Redmond, Wash., is unique because of its concrete approach.


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