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Nuclear Fusion Could Rescue the Planet From Climate Catastrophe

Nuclear fusion could be the clean energy the world needs—and private companies are now working on machines to harness it.

About two dozen private companies around the world are working to harness a transformative energy technology that could rescue the planet from climate catastrophe. One is using space in an old factory that’s home to a mothballed U.S. Department of Energy-funded research machine in Cambridge, Mass. Another is housed in an industrial building behind a Costco outside Vancouver. A third is down the street from a self-storage facility in the foothills of Orange County, Calif.

The companies are working on commercializing fusion.

Fusion’s promise is huge. It would be the most energy-dense form of power: A liter of fusion fuel is equivalent to 55,000 barrels of oil. In its most common form, that fuel would come from a practically inexhaustible source: water. In fact, 2 cubic kilometers of seawater could in theory provide energy equivalent to all the oil reserves on Earth. “It’s ubiquitous, inherently safe, zero-carbon energy—at a scale that can fuel the planet,” says Matt Miller, president of Stellar Energy Foundation Inc., a nonprofit that promotes the development of fusion power. “Now that’s worth working on.”

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