Nuclear fusion power project to start in 2018: official

Jun 18, 2009
People look at tractors working on the future International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) site in Cadarache
People look at tractors working on the future International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) site in Cadarache, southern France, in 2008. An experimental reactor that could harness nuclear fusion, the power that fuels the Sun, will begin operation in southern France in 2018, the project's governing body announced Thursday.

An experimental reactor that could harness nuclear fusion, the power that fuels the Sun, will begin operation in southern France in 2018, the project's governing body announced Thursday.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) should be fully operational in 2026, the ITER Council said in a communique after a meeting in Japan.

The seven-nation council endorsed a "phased" completion of the multi-billion-dollar reactor, with a target date for "first plasma" by the end of 2018.

ITER is designed to produce 500 megawatts of power for extended periods, 10 times the energy needed to keep the energy-generating plasma -- a form of radioactive gas -- at extremely high temperatures.

It will also test a number of key technologies for fusion including the heating, control and remote maintenance that will be needed for a full-scale fusion power station.

Preliminary trials would use only hydrogen. Key experiments using tritium and deuterium that can validate fusion as a producer of large amounts of power would not take place until 2026.

Launched in 2006 after years of debate, the pilot project at Cadarache, near Marseille, has seven backers: the European Union (EU), China, India, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the United States. Kazakhstan is poised to become the eighth member.

entails forcing together the nuclei of light atomic elements in a super-heated plasma, held in a doughnut-shaped chamber called a tokamak, so that they make heavier elements and in so doing release energy.

The process, used by the Sun and other stars, would be safe and have negligible problems of waste, say its defenders.

In contrast, nuclear fission, which entails splitting the nucleus of an atom to release energy, remains dogged by concerns about safety and dangerously radioactive long-term waste.

Four years ago, ITER was priced at around 10 billion euros (13.8 billion dollars today), spread among its stakeholders, led by the EU, which has a 45-percent share.

Five billion euros (6.9 billion dollars) would go to constructing the tokamak and other facilities, and five billion euros to the 20-year operations phase.

Last month, the British science journal Nature said construction costs "are likely to double" and the cost of operations "may also rise."

"We are in the process of calculating the final cost of the project," ITER spokesman Neil Calder told AFP. "The financing plan will be presented in November at the next meeting of the council."

If ITER is a success, the next step would be to build a commercial reactor, a goal likely to be further decades away.

(c) 2009 AFP

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User comments : 58

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dirk_bruere
1.3 / 5 (13) Jun 18, 2009
A total waste of money.
It looks like the wrong horse has been backed in the fusion race. Time to allocate more funds to exploring alternatives such as the Polywell.
mattytheory
3 / 5 (14) Jun 18, 2009
$5 billion to construct the tokamak? Seriously, what have we learned from previous gigantic engineering projects... they ALWAYS run overbudget! Maybe they should stop hiding the costs? Or maybe that is part of the plan... "its too late to stop now, we've already invested $5 billion..."



And, why 2018? Will it really take NINE YEARS to build this thing?
earls
2.3 / 5 (9) Jun 18, 2009
paulo
1.9 / 5 (17) Jun 18, 2009
they could have built a lot of solar projects for that kind of money.... that would actually be generating power in reality, rather than in theory...
....let's say $20000 per household for a 3kwh system.... and seeing as construction costs are likely to double on this tokamak we can say it will cost between 15 and 20 billion $, so that's around a million homes each generating 3kwh (not taking into consideration mass-production cost reductions) ,,, so you're up into the gigawatts anyway... just decentralized.
seems like a big waste of money for something that might not work when there are real options available now.
Doschx
4.1 / 5 (21) Jun 18, 2009
nothing ventured... nothing gained...
Bob_Kob
3.5 / 5 (14) Jun 18, 2009
While fusion is the way to go, i'm disappointed that decades from now theyre still only going to be 'experimental'. Looks like itll take another 50 years before we have proper commercial fusion.
DonR
4.1 / 5 (15) Jun 18, 2009
I'm disappointed at the time frame for completion too, if only because I'll be dead before we see mass public consumption of fusion power.

But still, 100 years from now, imagine the possibilities! Go Team Fusion.
paulo
1.7 / 5 (17) Jun 18, 2009
Yeah, true. How could I have been so stupid.... why would we want to use a viable source of power now when we could maybe use a theoretically unproven source of power sometime one day maybe in the future, maybe.



Yeah, screw solar power. Let's build a giant machine that will cost *billions* of dollars (assuming it's on budget), take nine years to build (assuming it's on time), and then generate less than half of what the average coal plant does (assuming it works)! What a great idea.... can I chip in?



Really, all these giant fusion projects look like pie-in-the-sky diversions paid for by established mining/power interests.



Believe me, I'd love to be proven wrong on this and see clean fusion supplant all the coal-fired and nuclear power stations on this planet, but I'm not going to hold my breath.
gopher65
3.8 / 5 (18) Jun 18, 2009
paulo: I know why you feel that way, and what sources you've read. However, if you looked into alternative energy sources in greater depth, and researched the *total* costs of them -- environmental, time, and monetary -- you'd find out that widescale, cheap implementation of PV solar power (not thermal solar, which is viable now) is even further away than Fusion. And it will cost more:P.

And yeah, that makes those of us who like Solar (in theory) sad, but that's the way it is.

In the near future (next 30 years) there are only four viable non-fossil fuel energy sources that can achieve widescale deployment: Hydroelectric, Geothermal, D-T Fusion, and Thorium Fission.

Of these 4, D-T Fusion is the furthest in the future, but it also has the most potential. (A moderately high density, moderately efficient D-T Fusion reactor would only have to be 50 kilometres across to produce more energy than the entire sun:P. This is, of course, why we don't see any Dyson Swarms built by aliens. Because they all realized early on that Stars are incredibly inefficient at energy generation.).

Again, solar heating of houses and businesses is entirely viable, even today (in some climates, anyway). But PV? No. Many decades away:(.

And of course, once you actually begin installing PV panels everywhere you have to completely rip out the world-wide powergrid and replace it with a SmartGrid. With Fusion and Geothermal, you don't have to do that. I've seen talk of "upgrading" the powergrid to a SmartGrid, but in reality it is a total overhaul.

The estimates I've seen for this powergrid replacement range into the hundreds of TRILLIONS of dollars (...for the whole world of course, not just for the US), with a timeframe of more than a 100 years for construction. (It's taken use more than a century to build up our powergrid to its current level. You can't just snap your fingers and replace it in an instant.)
gopher65
4.1 / 5 (16) Jun 18, 2009
... course, at 50 km across that would be a very dense (and incredibly advanced) fusion reactor:P. But we don't really need to generate that much energy to beat out solar energy, do we? After all, Earth receives less than a 2 billionth of the sun's total energy output.

A fusion reactor that had the same (incredibly low) efficiency rating as the sun would only need to convert 2 kilograms of matter to energy per second in order to exceed the total amount of energy that Earth receives from the Sun.

Heh. We could power the entire planet with a single house sized reactor. Course, that level of fusion technology is still a ways off. But still, that's the ultimate goal.

So tell me: in the long-term, which is better? Having thousands of polluting manufacturing plants churning out disposable solar panels (the manufacture of PV panels is incredibly damaging to the environment, and uses rare resources. They also last a very short amount of time before they need to be replaced. 10-25 years, depending on the design and durability), or having one wee little reactor out in the middle of nowhere? (or, more likely ten or 15 smaller ones, just to make it less of a terrorist target:P.)
gopher65
4 / 5 (13) Jun 18, 2009
As to the article, and the other comments, agreed:(. However, even though this reactor won't come fully online until 2026, DEMO, the first commercial prototype Tokamak reactor, is suppose to start construction in 2024, and be completed by 2034.

And yeah, the Polywell conceptual design looks interesting, doesn't it? It's too early to tell whether or not it will work. I hope that it does. Definitely needs more funding. I'll note that Polywell did get 2 million in additional funding from Obama's financial package this year, which is cool.

The US Navy has also ramped up their funding for Polywell substantially. They're interested in "shipboard applications" for a replacement for their current ageing fission fleet (I'm guessing they're also interested in shipborne particle and plasma weapons, which currently can't be used extensively because of the power requirements:P).
paulo
1.9 / 5 (11) Jun 18, 2009
I appreciate your comments, gopher, but I must disagree. Aside from the fact that you cannot know the sources that I have read (??? what a strange thing to say!!!) coming from a family of electricians and electrical engineers I am aware of the costs and shortcomings of solar, and that its usefulness is limited by local climate, etc, ..... but the cost of upgrading the grid is already factored in to the installation.... it's an overrated expense.

My point was, and remains, that there are already renewable sources of energy that can supply us with enough electricity to power our homes and workplaces. Industry, maybe...

.....however, I now understand what this search for fusion power is *really* about..... it has nothing to do with powering society, and everything to do with weaponization and military control.

You hit the nail on the head with your comment on 'shipborne particle and plasma weapons.' This is all it is about.

In my naivety and innocence I had not even considered the military implications of fusion power.

Even so, I remain in objection - maybe more so. ...not that it means anything.... These projects will go on... resources will be poured into them on an unimaginable scale.... my opinion, like all of the other internet users out there, is of no consequence to those who make the decisions.
CWFlink
3.8 / 5 (11) Jun 19, 2009
Returning to the 4 alternatives listed by gopher65. I'd suggest we look more closely at micro-reactors using Thorium Fusion. The idea proposed by multiple companies is for a mass-produced, self-regulating, non-proliferating nuclear plant the size of a flatbed truck providing the power for a whole town.



Remember how cell towers exploded throughout the 3rd world.... the poor countries skipped the "land-line" stage and quickly distributed cell towers across the countryside. These same countries can skip the grid (smart or otherwise) and have low cost power distributed where needed without huge investments in plant, network, safety and operational expertiese.



The economics of the 3rd world argue for the widespread adoption of such "right sized" power technology over the next 30 years.... IF ... and it is a big IF ... we can overcome the safety and terroism fears through the use of the Thorium cycle. Thoughts?



See... http://thoriumpower.com/
and... http://www.world-...f33.html
or type "small nuclear reactors" into your favorite search engine.
Walid
4.4 / 5 (8) Jun 19, 2009
Scientific research has only been beneficial in a very unpredictable way. We cannot before hand say that by supporting and funding one technology over the other we would be better off. Solar energy can be a good electricity producer had it been less expensive to deploy and can be stored in an efficient and environmentally friendly way for night use. Till then, our only alternative is to investigate all alternatives. The funding for this fusion reactor may sound like a big sum of money, but consider the amount that is spent on weapons research. I think that this money is well spent.
Soylent
2.4 / 5 (12) Jun 19, 2009
Yeah, true. How could I have been so stupid.... why would we want to use a viable source of power now when we could maybe use a theoretically unproven source of power sometime one day maybe in the future, maybe.


If solar power was a viable source of power, why does it need to be mandated(e.g. RPS) and subsidized(outrageous feed-in tarriffs amounting to 20-40 %u20AC cents per kWh, over 10 times the levelized cost of current nuclear plants)?

Worse, there's no place for wind and solar in a post carbon grid because the insane volumes of natural gas required to integrate them into the grid will cease to be there and storage will almost certainly not be far enough along that you can build enough of it(not for love nor money, we're talking months of back-up for the entire electrical grid).

Wind and solar is just a massive waste of precious metals(especially indium, neodymium and tellurium).
Skepticus
4 / 5 (8) Jun 19, 2009
If another oil crisis like the one in the 1970s is in the works, you bet it will be operational in 3 years time. Nobody is going to do thing in a hurry if their backs aren't against the wall or to make a point. Remember how fast the atom bombs were developed to finish off the WW2 quickly? Or the Apollo program?
nuge
4.2 / 5 (5) Jun 19, 2009
umm, excuse me, but this sounds WAY better:

http://arstechnic...itle.ars
Soylent
3 / 5 (10) Jun 19, 2009
Remember how fast the atom bombs were developed to finish off the WW2 quickly?


Not to understate their accomplishment but fission is much simpler than fusion. It's what cold fusion wanted to be. The original nukes were largely a bluff; Japan was convinved the US had many more like them or could rapidly develop them. The US was capable of doing damage far more rapidly by simply continuing to firebomb Japanese cities one by one. MAD didn't enter into the picture until miniaturized thermonuclear warheads on ICBMs.

Or the Apollo program?


That's cheating a bit. The Apollo programme didn't require that much new information or technology. The Rocket technology came largely from the German V-2 programme which itself grew out of liquid rocket motor technology from the 20's and 30's. The radar and communications technology largely came out of of WW-II. The computer and software technology was largely developed for decryption of messages coded on german enigma machines and the thermonuclear weapons programme.
Velanarris
4 / 5 (6) Jun 19, 2009
In the near future (next 30 years) there are only four viable non-fossil fuel energy sources that can achieve widescale deployment: Hydroelectric, Geothermal, D-T Fusion, and Thorium Fission.
How exactly would standard fission not be a reliable and scalable non-fossil energy source? If you want to play the waste card, be ready.
Rute
1 / 5 (11) Jun 19, 2009
I have always wondered this: if the most intelligent men are unable to guide nuclear fusion on Earth, then how come they believe that an Intelligent Designer isn't needed to explain how the nuclear fusion works in the Sun?
otto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 19, 2009
Pray for patience Rute
otto1923
3.8 / 5 (4) Jun 19, 2009
Tokamaks at plasma physics labs are built to learn how to produce, store, [and transport] plasma for long periods of time. The promise of free energy justifies the expense but the knowledge will be necessary in the future when we begin storing other materials in plasma form; antimatter etc. Other better easier ways to produce fusion power besides tokamaks- z pinch, inertial confinement, etc.
Velanarris
4.3 / 5 (6) Jun 19, 2009
I have always wondered this: if the most intelligent men are unable to guide nuclear fusion on Earth, then how come they believe that an Intelligent Designer isn't needed to explain how the nuclear fusion works in the Sun?

Just because the mechanics are not understood does not mean that the end result is a work of God.
gopher65
3.3 / 5 (3) Jun 19, 2009
In the near future (next 30 years) there are only four viable non-fossil fuel energy sources that can achieve widescale deployment: Hydroelectric, Geothermal, D-T Fusion, and Thorium Fission.

How exactly would standard fission not be a reliable and scalable non-fossil energy source? If you want to play the waste card, be ready.


Because nearly the entire world supply of U235 is in Canada and Australia. It is estimated that even at current consumption levels, those two countries will exhaust their easily extractable U235 supplies before we hit mid-century. Current high-grade reactor fuel contains 5% U235, and ~95% U238.

With Fission their are 2 realistic choices:

1) U238 Breeder Reactors: these reactors use U238 as a fuel source, and produce significant amounts of easier-to-fission nuclear fuel as a waste product. I'm not completely certain, but I believe that the U238 is converted into Pu239 within the reactor, and then reacted. Breeder plants have been built and confirmed to work, but due to the fact that practically all worldwide fission research was cancelled for about 30 years (and only recently started up again... darned Reagen and his stupid Reagenoimcs caused this as an unintended side effect:(. Chernobyl also helped, of course), this type of plant is not yet economical for power production. Several of them are currently in operation.

2) Thorium Breeder Reactors: These reactors are still in the theoretical stages, AFAIK. Thorium can be easily converted to U233, which can be fissioned. Like the U238 reactor, this conversion happens within the reactor itself. Thorium reactors are suppose to be inherently safer, create far less (useful) weapons grade nuclear material, and their fuel type is quite common.
googleplex
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 19, 2009
This project should be done as it is very cheap.
However its priority should be low. We need some clean power solutions yesterday!
We need zero toxic emissions coal plants. I don't really care about the CO2.
Solar needs to be done on a massive scale using concentrators. That way the PV cells can be upgraded easily as technology improves whilst keeping the reflectors.
gopher65
1 / 5 (3) Jun 19, 2009
umm, excuse me, but this sounds WAY better:

http://arstechnic...itle.ars

I hear people say this kind of thing all the time with regards to fusion reactors. But remember: there are *many* different types of fusion fuel sources, and many different types of reactions that can occur to produce energy.

So a design that's great for a D-T Fusion reactor will *not* work for an He3 Fusion reactor (He3 is common on the moon, while Deuterium and Tritium don't appear to be).

It's also best to remember that the ultimate goal with fusion shouldn't be to fuse Deuterium and Tritium, which are either rare or need to be manufactured, but instead to fuse hydrogen, which is a very common and easily assessable fuel source.

So more diversity in reactor designs == good.
Hyperion1110
4.3 / 5 (6) Jun 19, 2009
I have always wondered this: if the most intelligent men are unable to guide nuclear fusion on Earth, then how come they believe that an Intelligent Designer isn't needed to explain how the nuclear fusion works in the Sun?


Please, no Intelligent Design crap! That kind of fundamentalist dribble gives thinking Christians a bad name.

One does not need to suppose the existence of a Designer working out ever aspect of the physical world in accordance with His will to explain any natural phenomena. A well-ordered and complex universe is perfectly reasonable in the context of current scientific understanding. Now, there is nothing inconsistent with the idea of a Creator as the originator of the current physical laws. But Intelligent Design as constructed is nothing more than a veiled attempt to rework creationism into a "scientific" theory.
Lord_jag
1 / 5 (2) Jun 19, 2009
It's also best to remember that the ultimate goal with fusion shouldn't be to fuse Deuterium and Tritium, which are either rare or need to be manufactured, but instead to fuse hydrogen, which is a very common and easily assessable fuel source.


It's neither rare nor does it need to be manufactured. It is quite common and it is a waste product of fission reactors.

It needs to be refined, which may present problems, but there are tonnes of it in standard, regular sea water.
Velanarris
3 / 5 (2) Jun 19, 2009

Because nearly the entire world supply of U235 is in Canada and Australia. It is estimated that even at current consumption levels, those two countries will exhaust their easily extractable U235 supplies before we hit mid-century. Current high-grade reactor fuel contains 5% U235, and ~95% U238.







With Fission their are 2 realistic choices:







1) U238 Breeder Reactors: these reactors use U238 as a fuel source, and produce significant amounts of easier-to-fission nuclear fuel as a waste product. I'm not completely certain, but I believe that the U238 is converted into Pu239 within the reactor, and then reacted. Breeder plants have been built and confirmed to work, but due to the fact that practically all worldwide fission research was cancelled for about 30 years (and only recently started up again... darned Reagen and his stupid Reagenoimcs caused this as an unintended side effect:(. Chernobyl also helped, of course), this type of plant is not yet economical for power production. Several of them are currently in operation.

Yes, but in line with your comment Uranium based breeder reactors are a set it and forget it design. The fuel re-enriches itself with little to no waste. That's what I was referring to in regard to "standard fission".

And Jag, deuterium and tritium are not readily available on Earth. Seawater contains very little of either in concentration.

An apt analogy would be sifting a beach for your car keys. Yeah, they're there, but you have to do a lot of work to extract them.
gopher65
1 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2009
Tritium doesn't naturally occur on Earth, and so needs to be manufactured. Current Tokamak designs call for the walls of the reactor to be lined with Lithium, with small amounts of that Lithium being converted to Tritium via neutron bombardment from the reactor itself. Unfortunately Lithium itself is rather rare (in commercially extractable quantities), and it has many other applications.

Also, the reactor designs would use Li6 rather than Li7, which is much more common. Li6 comprises less than 8% of lithium reserves, or about 2 and a quarter million tonnes, worldwide (again, in readily extractable form. There is much more in very difficult to extract forms.).

As for Deuterium, it is extracted from water. There is enough Deuterium around for a looooong time, but the longterm goal still needs to be hydrogen fusion.
gopher65
1 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2009
Yes, but in line with your comment Uranium based breeder reactors are a set it and forget it design. The fuel re-enriches itself with little to no waste. That's what I was referring to in regard to "standard fission".

Well, yeah. But as I said, Breeder reactors aren't yet commercially viable. They will be, eventually. But that isn't one of the available options for an electricity producing fission plant, and it won't be for at least a decade.
Velanarris
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 19, 2009
Yes, but in line with your comment Uranium based breeder reactors are a set it and forget it design. The fuel re-enriches itself with little to no waste. That's what I was referring to in regard to "standard fission".


Well, yeah. But as I said, Breeder reactors aren't yet commercially viable. They will be, eventually. But that isn't one of the available options for an electricity producing fission plant, and it won't be for at least a decade.


One of the only reasons why they're not commercially viable is due to the ridiculous regulation and subsequent ban by Carter in the 70's after the Detroit sodium explosion.
jselin
3 / 5 (2) Jun 19, 2009

It's neither rare nor does it need to be manufactured. It is quite common and it is a waste product of fission reactors.

It needs to be refined, which may present problems, but there are tonnes of it in standard, regular sea water.


Deuterium sure but tritium needs to be produced cotinuously via a breeder which can be built into the tokomak wall.
gopher65
3 / 5 (4) Jun 19, 2009
Velanarris: Half of the cost of a new nuclear reactor (half!) is caused by the company that builds it having to defend themselves against the anti-nuclear lobby groups (Greenpeace and similar organizations).

Given that almost the entire cost of Fission power comes from the initial construction of the plant (storing the waste is fairly cheap, and the fuel itself is a negligible cost), this means that about half of the electricity bill of someone who gets their power from a nuclear plant is caused by the anti-nuclear lobby.

The hilarious part of all of this is that it recently came to light that the anti-nuclear lobby is funded almost exclusively by the American coal associations. Heh.
ErikMin
3 / 5 (4) Jun 19, 2009
Here we go with the Deuterium-tritium issue:
Deuterium is not scarce or hard to get - at all. One out of every 6700 hydrogen atoms on earth is actually a deuterium atom. Doing the math yields there is enough deuterium in the oceans to yield the current world energy consumption for 10s of billions of years by deuterium fusion alone. Since extracting and purifying the deuterium is a chemical reaction and it will be burned in a nuclear reaction, the net energy balance will guaranteed be positive - even if you extract the deuterium in the most inefficient way imaginable: there is on average 1-10 million times the amount of energy in an atoms nucleus than in their mutual chemical bonds.

Tritium can be made from both Li-6 as Li-7, as was found at the Castle Bravo nuclear test (google it!) - much to the dismay of the inhabitants of the Bikini atol around the corner. You do need high energy neutrons, but hey, that's exactly what comes out of a fusion reactor. There is enough lithium in known, minable supplies to provide the world with energy from D-T fusion at current energy consumption levels for 3000 years.

So given that the two-thirds of the world who hardly use energy now want to increase their energy use, and we might want to use lithium for other things as well (cars with lithium-ion cells, for example), we have a few centuries to figure out pure deuterium fusion after we got D-T fusion to work.

Which might take some more decades and cost - gee! - 0.05% of our annual energy bill. Which is around $3,000 billion.

So please, lets stop fighting about sun, wind, fusion, fission or whatever. Start funding energy research like we think it might be a problem worth attacking (say, 10% of that global energy bill?) and develop fusion, solar, wind, generation-IV fission at the same time. Believe me, we're gonna need ALL of them!
NeilFarbstein
1 / 5 (6) Jun 19, 2009
I dont believe fission should be part of the mix.
otto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2009
Mud volcanos... Scalding hot, high pressure mud. Drill for those. Cap it, put a turbine and a heat exchanger on that sucker and enjoy the energy. Mud? What mud? Pipe it to Mississippi (or down empty oil wells) huk huk
otto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jun 19, 2009
Alrightalright... This ultra dense deuterium sounds interesting. Maybe encased in suitable pressure containers like buckyballs or similar. A stream of those in an inertial confinement reactor- no magnets, no difficult maintenance. Whole segments of tokamaks need to be removed periodically- messy.
Soylent
2.3 / 5 (6) Jun 20, 2009
I have always wondered this: if the most intelligent men are unable to guide nuclear fusion on Earth, then how come they believe that an Intelligent Designer isn't needed to explain how the nuclear fusion works in the Sun?


This is like an impenetrable sphere of stupidity.

Look, the sun is just a big ball of hydrogen. Put 2 octillion tonnes of hydrogen gas in a big swirling cloud and let it collapse under it's own gravity and you get a star. You can't make one Earth, nor would you want to, because there isn't 2 octillion tonnes of hydrogen available; there is only 6 sextillion tonnes of junk, most of which isn't even hydrogen.
Soylent
2.7 / 5 (3) Jun 20, 2009
As for Deuterium, it is extracted from water. There is enough Deuterium around for a looooong time, but the longterm goal still needs to be hydrogen fusion.


1) There's enough deuterium in sea water and enough lithium in known reserves for ~60 kWth per person for 10 billion people for 1 billion years.

2) P-P proceeds at a rate ~10^26 times slower than D-T under the same conditions. You need a giant ball of hydrogen the size of a star to confine the damn thing; it takes hundreds of thousands of years for energy released in the sun's core to migrate to the surface of the sun. The sun only produces a few milliwatts of energy per tonne even though there are vast amounts of hydrogen at 15 million K compressed to a density 8 times that of depleted uranium. The whole trick is that surface area goes as R^2 while volume goes as R^3.
gopher65
1 / 5 (3) Jun 20, 2009
I'm not sure exactly what you mean by 60kWth per capita. Is that per year?

Real world numbers: in Canada the per capita electricity use is 11kW/year, and in Qatar (which is the largest), it is just under 30kW/year. Note that this doesn't include the tremendous amounts of fossil fuels burnt in a country like Canada, so actual energy use figures are much higher.

I'm having a brain fart on how to convert between power use and power/time use though:P. Anyway, work time:(.
MorituriMax
1 / 5 (1) Jun 20, 2009
Before it can become operational in 2018, isn't there a teeny little step they have to take first... like actually making a fusion reaction? ANY fusion reaction? Or did I miss the news article where they actually managed to create a reaction?
MorituriMax
1 / 5 (1) Jun 20, 2009
@Soylent

Unlike the Sun, with its octillions of tonnes of hydrogen, on Earth we are actively trying to make the thing happen, not let it happen naturally with no outside intervention.

Seriously, that's a stupid argument, atoms don't fuse together and create atomic bombs in nature and never would, not at the scale of the bombs humanity has created, yet somehow, magically I guess from soylents point of view, we have had atoms do just that on Earth, under conditions where it would NEVER happen accidentally or naturally.

If we set our minds to it, we can design conditions where it is more likely for fusion to happen than in a natural uncontrolled environment.
ErikMin
4 / 5 (4) Jun 20, 2009
@MorituriMax:
The first man-made D-T fusion reaction took place on Novembre 1st, 1952 (the Ivy Mike nuclear test). This produced enough energy to evaporate the island Elugelab.
The first *controled* man made fusion reaction with this fuel took place in 1991 at the Joint European Torus (JET), near Oxford in the UK. Later, the first reactions with the optimum mixture of equal amounts of deuterium and tritium took place in the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) at Princeton University in december 1993. Both of these machines are Tokamaks, the same basic design as ITER.
The current world record of power production from this reaction is held by (JET) which produced 16 MegaWatts in 1997. Ofcourse, 25 MegaWatts were needed to feed it (ITER will be the first to produce net power), but apparantly you indeed *did* miss a few news articles.
ErikMin
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 20, 2009
@MorituriMax in defence of Soylent:

What Soylent is trying to argue is that there is no good reason to go for pure hydrogen fusion (the H-H or P-P reaction) here on earth. There is plenty Deuterium (as I argued in my earlier post) and the P-P reaction relies on the Weak Interaction to change protons into neutrons. That Weak Interaction is not called that for nothing: It basically never happens. Only when you have enough protons around at immense pressures and a lot of time on your hands can you wait for it to produce deuterium out of protons. After which the deuterium fuses into helium. With that much deuterium around, why not skip step one and revert to step two, which only uses the Strong Interaction to reshuffle the present nucleons? And goes much quicker and easier. 'Easier' being quite relative ofcourse, in this field of research...
gopher65
1 / 5 (1) Jun 20, 2009
Ok, I'll give you that a D-T reaction is probably the best one for the time being, and we probably don't need to worry about a P-P reaction for a long time. I still think we should be working on He3 reactions though, so that we don't have to haul fuel to the moon.
Soylent
3 / 5 (2) Jun 21, 2009
I'm not sure exactly what you mean by 60kWth per capita. Is that per year?


60 kilowatt thermal. About as much energy as it takes to run a SUV at freeway speeds all day and all night, every day.

Real world numbers: in Canada the per capita electricity use is 11kW/year


Nonsense unit. A watt is 1 joule per second. A W/year is a equivalent to a joule per second square(times a constant to convert from year to second), which is to energy use as acceleration is to distance.

In 2004 Canada used 17.1 MWh per capita, per year of electrical power. That's an average power consumption of 1.94 kW per capita and it includes all non-residential uses(such as street lighting and industry).

...and in Qatar (which is the largest), it is just under 30kW/year.


Again, kW/year is a nonsense unit.

Qatar used 15.8 MWh per capita per year of electrical energy. That's 1.80 kW per capita on average.

Note that this doesn't include the tremendous amounts of fossil fuels burnt in a country like Canada, so actual energy use figures are much higher.


Indeed it does not, but 60 kWth per capita is a gob-smackingly huge amount of power. You don't need to use 60 kWth all the time; indeed, you probably would not, you'd use a little energy most of the time, spiking up to a few MW now and then.

I'm having a brain fart on how to convert between power use and power/time use though:P. Anyway, work time:(.




Power per time is non-sensical, it's the acceleration of energy use.



Power is the rate of energy use. 1 watt is 1 joule of energy per second. If power use is constant you can get the energy consumed as power*time, hence units like watt*hour(Wh). If power output varies you need to integrate power with respect to time over a given period to get the energy consumed.
Soylent
1 / 5 (2) Jun 21, 2009
@Soylent



Unlike the Sun, with its octillions of tonnes of hydrogen, on Earth we are actively trying to make the thing happen, not let it happen naturally with no outside intervention.


Which is why nobody is thinking about P-P fusion, why the sun is not a good model for practical fusion on Earth and why his creationist argument is a POS.

Seriously, that's a stupid argument, atoms don't fuse together and create atomic bombs in nature and never would, not at the scale of the bombs humanity has created, yet somehow, magically I guess from soylents point of view, we have had atoms do just that on Earth, under conditions where it would NEVER happen accidentally or naturally.


Get some reading comprehension. You're swatting at figments of your own imagination.
gopher65
2.5 / 5 (2) Jun 21, 2009
errr, oops. Misread the table I was reading. They just gave watts as some sort of weird comparison figure (weird:P).

Canada's per capita total energy consumption was 348 GJ/year in 2003.
Soylent
1 / 5 (1) Jun 22, 2009
Canada's per capita total energy consumption was 348 GJ/year in 2003.


That's 11.0 kW/capita of power. You can live very comfortably with that.
otto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 22, 2009
We will have clean energy, gobs of it. The progress of civilization has always meant the increase in energy consumption per capita and there is no theoretical reason why that should not continue. Someone said a few decades ago that the biggest energy problem humanity would face toward the end of the 21st century would be waste heat.
MorituriMax
1 / 5 (1) Jun 22, 2009
To everyone who misunderstood what I was saying, I was pointing out that we CAN make fusion energy eventually since we as tool users are developing methods to create fusion reactions.

I wasn't arguing that the way the Sun does it is the way WE will have to do it. Maybe instead of direct personal insults you all should get laid every now and then. Way to go Science Nerds.

Thanks for the reading comprehension insults some of you d---heads came up with.
Soylent
5 / 5 (2) Jun 23, 2009
We will have clean energy, gobs of it.


That's not a given. There are a surprising amount of evil fucks, like Amory Lovins(the self-declared "efficiency guru"), who are opposed to the idea:

"Complex technology of any sort is an assault on human dignity. It would be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy, because of what we might do with it."
Velanarris
not rated yet Jun 24, 2009

"Complex technology of any sort is an assault on human dignity. It would be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy, because of what we might do with it."

Someone needs to take that guy out back and retire him. Fossil fuels are a source of control. I believe it was Edison who said it best, "We'll make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles". Unfortunately he wasn't aware of how central and important electricity would become to our daily lives. Or maybe he was and believed in the goodness of man. Either way, very short sighted.
otto1923
not rated yet Jun 25, 2009
Amory and his buds can stay here and turn the homestead into a nice preserve. Humans in space will like to visit from time to time. Will hunting still be legal? (only in the hottest months...)
Scottar
3.2 / 5 (5) Jun 26, 2009
Man fly? Naw, Cows will jump over the moon first!

Germany has just decommissioned 8 nuclear reactors due to green efforts. Are they going to replace them? Yes with 8 new lignite burning coal plants. Despite all the hype about wind and solar they still can't build enough of them to replace the 8 nuclear antiquated generating plants. And they are evacuating whole towns for the remaining lignite.

So when you get past the green wash about free and clean energy you are left with fossil and nuclear as the mainstay for decades to come. It's mostly green smoke and special interests that are keeping us from affordable, clean energy.

http://depletedcr.../?p=2140

The Dark and Tragic Side of German Energy Policy
April 3rd, 2009


gopher65
4 / 5 (2) Jun 26, 2009
As I said, the anti-nuclear lobby is funded almost exclusively by the coal lobby.

Anti-nuclearism has nothing to do with environmentalism, it has to do with $$$$$$$.
Nartoon
1 / 5 (2) Jun 27, 2009
Time for micro-reactors for each house, eliminating a need for any grid whatsoever. Another alternative is house sized fuel cell electricity generation from natural gas.