Lockheed's plan for a mini fusion reactor, and lately I have seen other schemes popping up in the science news. The latest is from Tokamak Energy, a privately funded startup company setting up shop near London. Tokamak Energy was founded by scientists from the nearby, government-run Culham Centre laboratory, a major fusion endeavor, so these are not crazies from the woods any more than Lockheed's engineers are.
I wonder, what is driving all of this? The people involved say it is new science, for example new calculations that show the potential efficiency of fusion reactors is independent of the size. This means that research can progress on washing-machine-sized reactors that are vastly cheaper and quicker to build than the giant machines in government labs. But that doesn't necessarily mean that small reactors will work; after all, the giant machines still don't work, either, so just scaling them down doesn't solve the many problems.
Is this just the same old fusion mania, with the added excitement of being able to work on a small machine with a staff of a dozen, instead of in a giant bureaucracy? Or do these people understand something new about fusion that the rest of the world does not?