Small wonders: shrimps and fusion may be the holy grail of energy

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Small wonders: shrimps and fusion may be the holy grail of energy

Rival experts in the UK believe they can uncover the secret to cheap, clean power despite many challenges

Ellie Zolfagharifard

Nick Hawker is standing centimetres away from a gun that can fire bullets at 53,913km/h. “Let’s just say, it wouldn’t end well if somebody got hit,” he laughs.

This is the fastest railgun in Europe: a 12m pulsed-power machine capable of discharging up to 200,000 volts – the equivalent of 500 simultaneous lightning strikes. The device is in the secretive laboratory of First Light Fusion, in a bucolic corner of Oxfordshire. This place, claims the 34-year-old scientist, offers one of the best hopes the planet has of creating limitless clean energy through nuclear fusion.

Hawker is not quite ready to change the world just yet. “Fusion is definitely, definitely coming. This is the decade ... but like everything in energy, it takes time,” he says...

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