A fusion torch is a concept for utilizing the high-temperature plasma of a fusion reactor to break apart other materials (especially waste materials) and convert them into a few reusable and saleable elements. It was invented in 1968 by Bernard J. Eastlund and William C. Gough while they were program managers of the controlled thermonuclear research program of the United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). The basic concept was to impinge the plasma leaking from fusion reactors onto solids or liquids, vaporizing, dissociating and ionizing the materials, then separating the resulting elements into separate bins for collection. Other applications of fusion plasmas such as generation of UV and optical light, and generation of hydrogen fuel, were also described in their associated 1969 paper.
In the paper Eastlund and Gough defined three traps that could hamper the advancement of mankind:
- Population (food)
- Entropy (resources, energy, pollution)
- War (human needs and behavior)
They stated, referring to entropy:
The use of the fusion torch in conjunction with controlled fusion power offers a potential solution to the entropy trap in materials. - i.e. man's exhaustion of nature's stored resources.
In terms of energy needs they estimated the following:
An "all" electric city of 10,000,000 people, by the year 2000 will need 140,000 megawatts of electrical capacity. If just 10,000 megawatts were used in a fusion torch then somewhere between 2,700 and 27,000 tons of material could be processed per day.
They also speculated that the fusion torch concept would be useful for the separation of uranium from reactor fuel element material.
- Energy Resources, Report to the Committee on Natural Resources, publication 1000-D, (Washington: National Academy of Sciences- National Research Council, 1962).
- "The Fusion Torch - Closing the Cycle from Use to Reuse" by Bernard J. Eastlund and William C. Gough, USAEC Report Wash 1132, May 15, 1969
- Eastlund Scientific Enterprises Corporation website
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