On Friday, April 14, the five Commissioners of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced in a unanimous vote that fusion energy would be regulated in the United States under the same regulatory regime as particle accelerators, not as some variant of nuclear fission. This is an important victory for all fusion efforts, as it means both fusion research facilities and eventual fusion energy generators will not be burdened with irrelevant regulations from the existing fission energy industry, which is referred to as “nuclear energy”.
The decision was, in part, the result of patient education work for the Fusion Industry Association (FIA), which LPPFusion is a member of. In a statement, the FIA said: “ The FIA’s position has maintained that the case is clear: fusion energy is not nuclear fission, and therefore should not be regulated as such. Today’s decision affirms that principle, and the five NRC Commissioners deserve commendation for making this decision. “
The NRC decision to regulate fusion by entirely separate rules(which the NRC staff will develop) will also help assure the public that fusion energy does not have the disadvantages of fission energy, such as the possibility of meltdowns, and the production of large amounts of radioactive waste—long-lived radioactive material at dangerous levels. In particular, LPPFusion is confident that its generators, once developed, will produce no radioactive waste at all.
In the process of formulating new regulations, we at LPPFusion hope the NRC will carve out exceptions for fusion use for beryllium. Currently, beryllium is regulated for international trade as a nuclear-related material, which can cause long paperwork delays in supply. Beryllium is the material LPPFusion uses for its electrodes, and it is also widely used in other fusion devices.