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"In 1970 I found little difficulty staying 30 years ahead of the man in the street, and now I find it difficult to stay 18 months ahead of the man on the street."
- Vernor Vinge

Thermatite  
  Pure energy fuel mined on asteroids.  

"It isn't a big one - not over five miles - but she's loaded with thermatite."

"Thermatite!" Kerry and Jem looked at each other. "What percentage alloy?"

"No percentage. It's the pure alloy. And a vein as thick as a spaceship." There's been nothing like it found in the solar system. I think this asteroid must have come from outside. The head of a comet, possibly, caught by Jupiter."

Kerry whistled softly. Thermatite was almost pure energy. It would undergo atomic disintegration without giving off gamma rays - hence could be used in very cheap, very light portable atomic engines that required no shielding.

From Jurisdiction, by Nat Schachner.
Published by Astounding Science-Fiction in 1941
Additional resources -

This cool-sounding material probably derives its name from thermite, invented in 1893 (and patented in 1895) by German chemist Hans Goldschmidt. Thermite reactions are used in welding and in incendiary devices used by the military.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Jurisdiction
  More Ideas and Technology by Nat Schachner
  Tech news articles related to Jurisdiction
  Tech news articles related to works by Nat Schachner

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