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Jackhammer fusion


Could this be another "garage" technology that transforms society like Bill Gates's microsoft?

Michel Laberge quit his job to invent a "glorified jackhammer" that he hoped would save the planet. That was 10 years ago.

Now, investors are betting more than $30 million on that jackhammer idea, which may yield a holy grail of energy -- a safe, clean and unlimited power source called hot fusion.

Laberge is trying to do something that no one has ever done: create a controlled "net gain" fusion reaction that creates more energy than is required to produce it. It's the same process that powers our sun. If it works, it could solve huge problems like climate change, the energy crunch and reliance on foreign oil.

But the competition to get there first is stiff. Thousands of scientists backed by the world's most powerful governments are racing against Laberge and his 50 colleagues working at an office park lab near Vancouver, British Columbia.

"I had fusion on the brain," he recalls.

"I sat at home on my couch for about six months, to the great despair of my wife, calculating all sorts of fusion schemes." Eventually, Laberge had his "aha" moment: a precision controlled piston that hammers giant shock waves into a magnetized sphere -- slamming atoms together hard enough to fuse and create energy.

The idea triggered investments in Laberge's young company, first from family and friends, then from venture capitalists including founder Jeff Bezos. So far, funding has totaled $32.5 million.


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