A recent issue of Aviation Week described a novel design for a fusion reactor from the Lockheed Skunk Works. It was smaller, simpler and lighter than the extant systems now being built and they're optimistic about it's test run in five years. I wrote a letter to the editor touting this departure and related it to other major breakthroughs in the last 100 years that all came from industries other than those traditionally tasked with them. This prompted an editorial in the magazine from the Holland brothers, two men who've spent long careers in the conventional nuclear power industry, who basically said that commercial fusion isn't ever going to happen because of two factors: the creation of large masses of highly radioactive waste in the form of the steel vacuum vessels, and the destructive flaking of the inner lining. The cause of the former was the highly energetic neutrons that penetrate deeply into the steel structure, and the latter from the alpha particles changing the crystal structure of the lining leading to failure. I don't deny that these two effects present onerous engineering challenges. That being said, I wrote another letter to the editor yesterday saying that neither of these men has the vision necessary to solve the problem and there will be solutions generated, but probably not from the nuclear fission power industry. My question (took me a while to get to this point) is this. What other materials or systems could capture energetic neutrons and convert that energy directly to electric current without going through the traditional steam/turbine capture scheme? Would there, could there be some form of solid state material that could use that energy to change the energy state of electrons, or transmute materials in some way to absorb the energy and transform it to useful form. Could the steel alloy be doped with an element or isotope that when irradiated would become stable? Or... are these guys right and neutron/alpha capture always will lead to destruction and more nuclear waaste? I am not a physicist, but I am also not without hope.