加速實現商用核融合發電 我們還缺什麼?

到 2040 年,全球電力需求預計將成長一倍;隨著電氣化擴展到新的應用領域,到 2060 年可能會增加五倍。滿足全球研究人員目前正在研發的這一需求的一種解決方案是建造一座核融合發電廠,該發電廠能夠以零排放改變氣候氣體,提供具規模的綠電。

時長: 19:25 | 發佈者: EE Times Taiwan | 發佈時間: 2022-05-30

加速實現商用核融合發電 我們還缺什麼?

HOST: Welcome to PowerUp, a podcast show hosted by Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio, that brings life to some of the stories on power electronics technologies and products featured on powerelectronicsnews.com and through other AspenCore Media publications. In this show, you’ll hear both engineers and executives discuss news, challenges and opportunities for power electronics in markets such as automotive, industrial and consumer. Here is your host, editor in chief of powerelectronicsnews.com and eeweb.com, Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio.

歡迎收聽由Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio主持的podcast節目Powerup。本節目為 PowerElectronicsNews.com 和其他 AspenCore Media 旗下網站的內容帶來活力。在本節目中,您將聽到工程師和高層討論電力電子和汽車、工業與消費性電子等市場的新聞、挑戰和商機。歡迎我們的主持人,Power Electronics News和EEWeb.com主編Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio。

MAURIZIO Di PAOLO EMILIO: Hello, everyone and welcome to this new episode of PowerUp. Today, we will talk about fusion.

MAURIZIO Di PAOLO EMILIO: 大家好,歡迎收聽的新一集的PowerUp。今天,我們要討論的是核融合。

Global power demand is expected to double by 2040 and could increase fivefold by 2060 as electrification expands to new applications. One solution for meeting that demand currently under R&D by researchers around the globe, is to build a nuclear fusion power plant capable of supplying green scale electricity with zero emissions of climate-altering gasses.

到 2040 年,全球電力需求預計將成長一倍;隨著電氣化擴展到新的應用領域,到 2060 年可能會增加五倍。滿足全球研究人員目前正在研發的這一需求的一種解決方案是建造一座核融合發電廠,該發電廠能夠以零排放改變氣候氣體,提供具規模的綠電。

I am here with Dr. Neil Mitchell, former director of the ITER magnet development initiative, and Glenn Weinreb, director of the Manhattan 2 Project, a $25 billion effort to build a large fusion reactor in France. Dr. Mitchell oversaw the development of the magnets and is currently an advisor to the Director General. He has over 40 years of experience with fusion. The Manhattan Project identifies is the lowest cost way to solve climate change, and Glenn has published over 25 articles on this topic. Glenn is going to interview Neil Mitchell to talk about fusion energy.

與我一起的是國際熱核融合實驗反應爐(EETT編按:ITER為International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor縮寫)磁體開發計劃前任總監Neil Mitchell博士,以及Manhattan 2 號專案總監Glenn Weinreb;該專案耗資250億美元,在法國建造了一座大型核融合反應爐。 Mitchell 博士監督了磁體的開發,目前則擔任顧問一職,他在核融合領域擁有 40 多年的經驗。Manhattan 專案的目標則是定義解決氣候變遷問題的最低成本解決方案,Glenn發表了超過 25 篇關於該主題的文章。接下來 Glenn 將採訪 Neil Mitchell,討論核融合能源。

GLENN WEINREB: Hello, everyone. This podcast explores how a government or a foundation could potentially resolve climate change with a billion dollar a year sized R&D program that accelerates the development of fusion power, where the goal is to produce commercial fusion this decade.

GLENN WEINREB: 大家好,這一集Podcast要探討的是一個政府單位或基金會組織如何透過每年 10 億美元規模的研發專案來因應氣候變遷問題;這個研發專案旨在加速核融合能源的發展,目標是在十年內實現商業化核融合發電。

We define commercial fusion as the making of electricity at a cost comparable to natural gas or coal based electricity. This would require a fusion reactor to produce more electricity than it consumes reliably, and at low cost.


Currently, commercial fusion is not expected until the 2030s. However, with more money, it could appear sooner perhaps. Nations under great pressure sometimes spend money to bring a technology to market quickly. For example, United States commercialized space in the 2000s and COVID vaccine development in 2020. Global decarbonization will cost many trillions of dollars. Therefore, it is reasonable to spend billions of dollars to accelerate commercial fusion, provided it actually works.

目前,預期商用核融合要到2030之後才會實現。然而,如果有更多的錢可能會讓它問世得更快。承受巨大壓力的國家有時會花錢將技術快速推向市場--例如,美國在2000年代將太空商業化,以及在2020年開發出 COVID 疫苗。全球減碳將耗資數兆美元,因此如果它確實有效,那麼花費數十億美元來加速商業化核融合是合理的。

There are two types of nuclear power. One is fission, the other is fusion. Fission is your traditional nuclear power plant that currently makes electricity. It is not popular in many countries due to meltdown risk, nuclear waste, nuclear bomb proliferation risk and cost. Alternatively, the newer type — fusion — does not have these problems. However, it is still in development.


Dr. Mitchell, welcome.


NEIL MITCHELL: Thank you very much for inviting me.


GLENN WEINREB: So let’s begin with the question, How much money would it cost to get commercial fusion working this decade, in your opinion? And if you had this money, what would you do with it?

GLENN WEINREB:那麼讓我們從這個問題開始,在你看來,在這十年內實現商用核融合發電需要多少資金?如果你有這筆錢,你會用來做什麼?

NEIL MITCHELL: So what we want here is certainly more funding. And I think you’re well over the $500 million a year here. What level you go to upwards depends on which challenges you set, but public procurements tend to push to low risk. If you wish to go fast on fusion, you’ll have to have high risk. And if you want a high risk, you’ll have to accept that some of this money is going to be wasted. In the early days of the Apollo program, for example, you were shooting off several rockets, but there were quite a few failures down the line on that.

NEIL MITCHELL:我們想要的當然是更多的資金。而且我認為你在這裡每年的收入遠遠超過 5 億美元,能上升到什麼水準取決於你設定了哪些挑戰,但公共採購往往會推向低風險。如果想要快速實現核融合發電,就得承擔很高的風險。如果你想要高風險,你將不得不接受其中一些錢將被浪費。例如,在阿波羅計劃(EETT編按:美國太空總署在1960至70年代執行的登陸月球計畫)的早期,有發射了幾枚火箭,但在這方面有很多失敗。



NEIL MITCHELL: And you have to allow the same thing here in your parallel development. If you’re going to build a commercial fusion reactor, you’re going to need thousands of people. You can’t suddenly start with a program that’s spending 500 million or a billion a year. You have to ramp up your expenditure or you waste it. You have to build up an infrastructure; you have to build up companies that can provide you with your components on an industrial scale.

NEIL MITCHELL:你必須在你的平行開發中允許同樣的事情,如果你要建造一個商業化核融合反應爐,會需要數千人力。你不能突然開始一個每年花費5億或10億美元的專案,你必須逐漸增加開支,否則就浪費了。你必須打造基礎設施,必須建立能夠以工業規模提供零組件的公司。

We have a lot of experience in ITER for this, where we develop the low-temperature superconductors. When we started in the mid 90s, a negligible industrial base, and at the end, we were producing something over 100 tons a year of this material.

我們在這方面於 ITER 擁有豐富的經驗,我們在那裡開發低溫超導體。當我們在1990年代中期開始時,只有微不足道的工業基礎,最後我們每年生產超過 100公噸的該種材料。

Now, I think here, you’re going to need actually, three reactors. First of all, it’s going to be a kind of, I suppose, you can call it a proof of principle reactor. It’s something that achieves a nuclear plasma. It would be fairly high Q; doesn’t have to be ignited. But it will show that you can get a fusing plasma, and you can control it for a reasonable amount of time.


In the US, I think at the moment, it would be something similar to spark. It probably hasn’t got a breathing blanket; heat extraction will be limited. So the second device has to be a reactor. So it would be a bit bigger, and it would have the breathing blanket required to make the tritium to make it self-sufficient. And most important, it would set the basis for the third reactor, which will be the commercial one.


GLENN WEINREB: Seems to me that ITER is a large fusion reactor that was designed in the 1990s. And then building it is a 30-year or more project. And it seems like there’s a lot of talent and money that is put into building this. Whereas if you had a, let’s say, your top scientists with money, who were making decisions week to week, where they’re doing a lot of development in parallel, and they’re throttling the money to the various, let’s say, groups working on the various things, then they don’t end up with something that’s obsolete by the time they’re finished. Right? Because they’re making changes as they’re going along.

GLENN WEINREB:在我看來,ITER 是一個大型核融合反應爐,設計於1990年代,然後以一個 30 年或更長時間的專案來打造它。似乎有很多人才和資金投入到建設中。而如果你擁有…比方說,有頂尖科學家、又有錢,他們每週都在做決策,同時進行大量的開發,他們把資金節制使用於不同的、處理各種事情的工作小組,就不會在最後完成時得到一個過時的結果,對吧?因為他們在前進的過程中會有所改變。

NEIL MITCHELL: That’s right. ITER was set up as an international partnership. And once the design was agreed, it’s fixed, you can’t change it. ITER is not an agile project. It’s constrained because it has to meet a lot of expectations from the different stakeholders. And it’s constrained because the basic concept was fixed 20 years ago now, and we can’t change it because the project doesn’t work that way. I think what we need now is to be agile. We have to we have to adapt as we go. And ITER doesn’t permit that.

NEIL MITCHELL:沒錯。ITER是作為一個跨國策略聯盟而成立的,一旦設計獲得大家同意,它就是固定的,不能改變。ITER不是一個敏捷的專案,它是受到限制的,因為必須滿足不同利益相關者的許多期望。它受到限制是因為基本概念在20年前就已經確定了,我們無法改變它,因為專案的運作方式不是那樣的。我認為我們現在需要的是敏捷,我們必須在前進的過程中做調整,但ITER 不允許這樣做。

GLENN WEINREB: I understand. If you’ve got, let’s say, a brilliant scientist, who’s, let’s say designed a fusion reactor in China, and another one who’s brilliant a scientist that designs a fusion reactor in England. And they’ve published over 100 papers each. Generally speaking, top scientists and engineers “don’t suffer fools gladly.” Meaning if they see something that’s not working, they’ll just shake their head, say: It’s no good. I’m not going to continue working on that. They’d be pretty tough about cutting down the engineering projects that are not bearing fruit, right? And being agile. It’s their nature to be agile, if they’re given power.

GLENN WEINREB: 我了解。例如若是有一位優秀的科學家,在中國設計了一個核融合反應爐,還有另一位優秀的科學家,在英國設計了一個核融合反應爐;他們各自發表了 100 多篇論文。一般來說,頂尖的科學家和工程師「不能容忍愚蠢」,這意味著如果他們看到某些東西不能用,他們會搖頭說這不好,我不會繼續這樣做;他們對於砍掉沒有成果的工程專案態度非常強硬,對吧?而且會保持敏捷,如果他們被賦予權力,敏捷是他們的天性。

NEIL MITCHELL: Yes, if they give them power, but the projects I’ve seen so far, you’ve got the money and you’ve got a framework and you have to work within it, which tends to discourage people. It discourages innovation, and it discourages change.

NEIL MITCHELL:是的,如果賦予他們權力。但到目前為止我所看到的專案是,你得到資金的同時也得到了一個框架,必須在其中工作;這往往會使人們灰心,它不鼓勵創新,也不鼓勵改變。

GLENN WEINREB: You have two things. One is a big development project where you have a business plan that you put together, and then you work on something over 20 years, and you have no agility, very little agility. That’s one way of doing things. That’s the traditional way of doing things.

GLENN WEINREB:這有兩種情況,一個是有大型的開發專案,還有一個商業計劃,把它們放在一起投入20多年的時間,但沒有敏捷性,或是非常有限的敏捷性。這是一種做事的方式,是一種傳統的做事方式。

The other way of doing things is, you’ve got the top fusion scientists that get grumpy. They see something not work. It takes them about a second or so to say, Oh, cut that thing. It’s not working. And they say, Look, I don’t even see why we’re doing this. We see that it’s not working. Stop doing it. By nature, they would be agile if they were given power. If they have a project where they’re in charge, they have power, they’re given money and everybody is instructed to provide them with maximum support.


NEIL MITCHELL: But you have to be careful you don’t get into the sort of principle of trying to herd cats here. We have to put some damper on it. Sometimes you just have to try harder. Sometimes you need to decide that you’ve reached the end of the road and go to something else. And it’s here that you need your steering essentially from some sort of committee or group that has to be set up. You want controlled agility and stop it becoming a dinosaur.

NEIL MITCHELL:但你必須小心,不要在這裡陷入那種想嘗試放牧貓的原則,我們必須在上面放一些阻尼器。有時你只需要再加把勁,有時你需要決定你已經走到了路的盡頭,得轉向去做別的事情;而這正是需要從必須建立的、某種委員會或工作小組獲得指導的地方,你需要可控的敏捷性,並阻止它變成恐龍。

GLENN WEINREB: So if you have your top scientists with power, they’ve got to make the right decisions. They’ve got to decide, Are we at the end of our rope? Or do we just need to try harder? But then the question is, Well, who makes these decisions? And it seems like the most talented fusion scientists in the world are probably the best.

GLENN WEINREB:因此,如果您的頂尖科學家擁有權力,他們就必須做出正確的決策。他們必須決定,我們是否走到了盡頭?還是我們只需要再加把勁?但接下來的問題是,誰能做這些決定?看來那些世界上最具才華的核融合科學家們是最好的人選。

NEIL MITCHELL: Yes, with the reservation that you have to be careful with vested interests. You think you’re developing a new fighter jet or something, you have three prototypes. Well, if two of them don’t meet the flight acceptance tests, they’re dropped, and you go to the other one. But in the end, you have to focus.

NEIL MITCHELL:是的,但必須謹慎對待既得利益。舉例來說,你正在開發一架全新的戰鬥機之類的東西,你有三款原型設計,如果其中兩款不符合飛行驗收測試,就會被丟棄、得轉向另一個。但最終,你必須專注。

GLENN WEINREB: If we look at the different groups — let’s say there’s five to 10 groups worldwide working on fusion — and they hold patents, and there’s thousands of patents total. And if you’re building a commercial fusion reactor, you probably need access to technology held by five to 10 organizations. So correct me if I’m wrong, but you’ve got to get access to all that technology. In other words, you need for them to work together, and you need them to collaborate on development, you need for them to share revenue for whatever is built, they need to be willing to take all their patents and make them available to others. There’s all sorts of things that have to be done to pool these resources.

GLENN WEINREB:如果我們看看不同的團隊——假設全世界有5到10個團隊致力於融合——他們擁有專利、總共有數千項專利,而如果你正在打造一個商業核融合反應爐,可能需要取得由這 5 到10個組織持有的技術。如果我說錯了請糾正我…但你必須要取得所有這些技術,換句話說,你需要與他們合作,需要與他們協同開發、需要與他們分享獲得的任何收入,他們需要願意接受將他們所有的專利授權給其他人。為了集中資源,必須做這些各種各樣的事情。

NEIL MITCHELL: Yes, that’s right. Patents are always a problem. You can call it intellectual property. Of course, people don’t want to give up what they’ve invented. But on the other hand, if there isn’t some scheme to give it up, you can’t progress, and you end up that you don’t build a fusion reactor, simply because the patents are all held and people won’t collaborate to put them together. This has to be a negotiation that’s agreed at the start.

NEIL MITCHELL:是的,沒錯。專利總是一個問題,或者你可以稱之為智慧財產權。當然,人們不想放棄他們發明的東西。但另一方面,如果沒有什麼機制放棄它,就無法進步,最終無法打造出核融合反應爐,只是因為專利都是被持有,人們不願合作將它們放在一起。這必須是一開始就取得同意的談判。

If you want to get into a patent war during the engineering, you’ll get stuck for years. You have to have a grand bargain. But you have to be careful that working out the grand bargain through the legal processes and the lawyers doesn’t take longer than developing commercial fusion. Some patents are valuable, others are easy to get around. There are many ways of engineering a fusion reactor. The value of the patent is in how much extra it costs you to go round it. There may be a very few where it is particularly critical.


I don’t think that a commercial fusion reactor will turn out to be patent-driven. I think we we’ve got nature to fight first, before we get onto the patents. If we don’t collaborate on fighting nature and working out how to do it, the patents won’t matter.


GLENN WEINREB: You don’t get paid on your patent until somebody manufactures the commercial fusion reactor and sells it. Then, if you’re a patent holder, you can say, Ah. I want a percentage of what you just sold. But if that occurs 20 years from now, your patent will have expired by then. So you’re not getting anything. So if you’re a patent holder, then it’s in your best interest to work with whoever is putting together a commercial package.

GLENN WEINREB:在有人製造出商用核融合反應爐並出售之前,你不會獲得專利的報酬。所以,如果你是專利持有人,你可以說,我想要你剛售出的金額的多少百分比;但如果這種情況要在在20年後才發生,你的專利那時候也過期了,所以你什麼也得不到。因此,如果你是專利持有人,與正在整合商業全套方案的人合作,會符合你的最大利益。

NEIL MITCHELL: Exactly. It sounds like you want to be part of the negotiation panel!

NEIL MITCHELL:確實如此。聽起來你想成為談判小組的一員!

GLENN WEINREB: Or maybe you would be good at negotiating!

GLENN WEINREB: 或者你可能擅長談判!

NEIL MITCHELL: No, I don’t think so.


GLENN WEINREB: If you have entities that control patents, and let’s say there’s, I don’t know, three to 10 or so entities of varying degrees. And one is CFS. You have the CEO of CFS, and they could assign an individual person that speaks for them. And ITER could have one person that they assign to speak for ITER. And if you’ve got your entities and then you have people that have been assigned to speak for those entities, then they can get on Zoom once a week and have conversations and talk about, How can we get this moving before everything expires and we end up with zero?

GLENN WEINREB:如果能邀集掌控專利的實體公司…假設有3至10家左右不同程度的實體公司,其中一家是CFS (Commonwealth Fusion Systems),你找到CFS 的執行長,他們可以指派一個代表他們發言的人,而ITER可以指定一個人代表ITER 發言。如果可以邀集這些實體公司,並且找到能指派代表這些實體公司發言的人,他們就可以每週開一次 Zoom 線上會議進行對話和討論。我們如何能在一切到期、最後什麼都沒有之前推動這個過程?

NEIL MITCHELL: That’s right. Yes. You have to put a penalty on negotiating forever. Otherwise you will.

NEIL MITCHELL:沒錯。是的,必須懲罰一直不停的談判,否則就會是如此。

GLENN WEINREB: And I think everybody realizes that. And I think also for climate change they realize that you want to look at ways of accelerating development. If every engineer has access to everybody else’s technology, then they can more easily work on commercial fusion. And it’s also interesting that with decarbonization, which the plan is to stop emitting CO2 over the next 30 years or so, and that involves replacing existing infrastructure with green infrastructure that does not emit CO2. And if you look at how much that costs, you’re looking at maybe $100 trillion worldwide that’s spent over 30 years. And if you have 100 trillion, and you reduce that cost by 10%, and save 10 trillion, then well, okay, you’re saving money. And if you can spend billions of dollars to save trillions, then it’s reasonable.

GLENN WEINREB: 我想每個人都意識到了這一點。而且我認為對於氣候變遷,他們也意識到得看看有什麼能加速發展的方法。如果每個工程師都可以使用其他人的技術,他們就可以更輕鬆地投入商用核融合的工作。同樣有趣的是,淨零碳排計畫是在未來 30 年左右停止排放二氧化碳,這涉及使用不排放二氧化碳的綠色基礎設施替換現有基礎設施。而如果你看看這要花多少錢,就會看到全世界在超過30年的時間可能得花費100兆美元。如果你有100兆,但可以將成本降低10%,節省 10兆,那麼,好吧…你在省錢,但如果能花數十億美元以省下數兆美元,那是相當合理的。

So there is a reason for why large foundations and governments might be willing to accelerate fusion with money. But then the question I think, for them is, oh, how does that work? Where’s the money going? What are the various relationships of the various entities? And how do you marshal your resources? So it seems at the moment, the thing that’s missing is the proposal for how this comes together. It would be helpful if there was a document that listed the engineering that needs to be developed in a way where you’d summarize. Each engineering step is summarized in maybe one paragraph with a picture.


NEIL MITCHELL: Yeah, pretty much like that. Yes. You look at the issues. And you want to get a bit of a global view. And it’s not just the superconducting magnets, of course. You have to look at the plasma control parts, the nuclear radiation, the maintenance, the repairs, this kind of thing. But maybe 10 items with a paragraph summarizing what you have to do.

NEIL MITCHELL::是啊,差不多就是這樣。是的,你看這些問題,你會想獲得一點全球視野。當然,不僅僅是超導磁鐵,還必須看電漿控制零件、核能輻射、維護、修理…等這些事情。也許有 10項,但還是要用一段文字總結必須做的事情。

GLENN WEINREB: This is all very fascinating and important. Dr. Mitchell, I want to thank you for your time.

GLENN WEINREB: 這一切都非常迷人而且重要。Mitchell博士,感謝您抽出寶貴時間。

NEIL MITCHELL: Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to state my opinions, and I hope it leads to something.

NEIL MITCHELL:謝謝你們給我這個機會表達我的意見,我希望這能帶來一些結果。

MAURIZIO Di PAOLO EMILIO: Thank you, Neil and Glen.


Given ambitious climate change targets, attention is turning to cleaner energy sources in order to achieve a green transition. Investing only in renewable energy sources, on the other hand, may not be sufficient to ensure an economically reliable and secure energy supply.


The energy that propels the stars is called fusion. Our Sun is a massive fusion device. Hydrogen atoms travel at extraordinary speed in the Sun’s core. Hydrogen atoms combine to form a heavier helium atom. Energy is released then in the form of light and heat.


From early demonstrations to the achievement of long fusion plasma duration times, along with the ultimate goal of plasma breakeven when plasma release at least as much energy as is required to hit them. Incremental progress has been reported over the last several decades towards practical fusion energy. Still, the conditions for fusion to occur on Earth as well as obtaining a constant positive energy gain remain difficult to achieve.


If the either project achieves its goals, them or will be the next one to the either Experimental Reactor. Transitioning to them requires connecting the reactor to the grid and producing up to 500 megawatt of net electricity. While ITER must demonstrate that more energy can be obtained from plasma than is consumed, they must demonstrate electricity production from fusion.

如果任一個專案實現其目標,它們或將成為任一實驗性反應爐的下一個專案。轉向它們需要讓反應爐連接到電網,產生高達 500兆瓦的淨電力。雖然 ITER 必須證明從電漿中獲得的能量比消耗的能量多,他們也必須證明能從核融合發電。

That brings us to the end of this episode. Stay tuned for more news and technical aspects about power electronics. If you are listening to this on the podcast page at eetimes.com or powereletronicsnews.com, links to articles on topics we have discussed are shown on this page.


Our app is brought to you by AspenCore Media. The host is Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio, and the Producer is James Ead. Thank you everyone for listening. See you next episode. Stay tuned.

我們的節目是由AspenCore Media發行,主持人是Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio,製作人是 James Ead 。謝謝大家的收聽,下集見!

編譯:Judith Cheng

(本集Podcast原刊登於EE Times美國版網站,參考原文請點此連結)