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Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor.

The world is in desperate need of energy. Growing populations, dwindling natural resources and continuing global strife place enormous strains on delivering enough energy to all earth’s inhabitants. The primary goal of Lawrenceville Plasma Physics research is to deliver abundant, cheap, green fusion energy to the world. A story recently carried by Reuters emphasizes the ever present need for such energy solutions, and the horrific lengths society can go to satisfy those needs.

A town called Douma in war torn Syria supports an energy production facility detrimental to both its workers and the environment. In a series of open furnaces, workers feed plastic waste into the flames. The fumes generated by this hazardous burning are captured, cooled and distilled into a variety of liquefied fuels. The liquid is refined into gasoline, diesel and benzene fuels.

Photo journalist Bassam Khabieh captured the story of the family based operation run by Abu Kassem. When fuel was no longer readily available in his town, he turned to instructional internet videos to construct a makeshift refinery. Abu Kassem employs three of his sons, and other relatives, to help carry out this hazardous work. Safety equipment and standards appear non-existent. Workers are urged to drink two cups of milk per day to ward off any health effects from the volatile gasses and liquids. One worker, Abu Fahad, notes “There is no pleasure in our work. It is very dangerous and requires a lot of caution.”

For the last three and a half years the family has worked fifteen hours per day, six days per week to produce fuel from plastic scrap. In a typical day, about one thousand kilograms of plastic is burnt in the workshop. This metric ton of discarded plastic will yield approximately 850 liters of fuel. The input stock for the operation ranges from plastic bottles, rubble from damaged buildings, plastic from cooking utensils, water and even sewage pipes. Untreated exhaust is then vented to the open air. Customers for the fuel include bakers, farmers powering water pumps and consumer transportation in cars and motorcycles.

Sacrificing the health and well-being of workers and their communities is a clear indication of the need for a more sustainable source of energy. Clean affordable aneutronic fusion power would improve countless lives around the globe. People currently take extreme steps to meet their energy needs. Fusion energy sources can’t come soon enough.