Saturday, April 07, 2018

We'll have successful commercial nuclear fusion in 10 years

(Via The Woodpile Report)

We've been hearing the 10 year refrain for nuclear fusion every year for at least 2 decades now. Could it be possible that someone is really on the verge of making it come true--next year?

Saying that this would be a game changer is putting it mildly. Not only would it change things here on Planet Earth, but can you imagine what it could do in space?

3 comments:

B said...

I'll beleive they have something when they ahve their first controlled reaction, even if it is only for a few minutes.

So far....nothing but paper.

Zendo Deb said...

People have been hanging their careers on Tokamak since before I graduated from college in the 1980s.

While it is cleaner than fission, I predict the "nuclear is bad" club will still protest, because there are radiation effects, though they last decades, not centuries.

The real problem is what happens if the superconducting magnets dump, and release the energy catastrophically while a reaction is in process. There is a tremendous amount of energy in a commercial-grade Tokamak. People in the vicinity will notice that there was an "incident" and some of that decades-long radiation problem may be spread around the area. How likely is this? I haven't looked at it in a while, and we are getting better at the superconducting magnet dance, but the chance is not zero.

Then there are the thermal effects. If magnetic containment fails, the plasma driving the reaction is at something greater than 20,000 degrees Fahrenheit. That is many times the temperature of the surface of the sun. (We are driving fusion with temperature and pressure alone, without the gravity of a star.) Just those effects will make for an energetic display.

Fusion has been "just around the corner" since 1980 or so.

pigpen51 said...

It has been since before 1980. I remember talk about it while still in high school, and I graduated in 78. And it will certainly be a game changer. But I think that when I first heard about it, they were talking about using fuel other than radioactive elements.

I also remember talk about trying to use a method of breaking down compounds into their various elements with a process that would yield huge amounts of energy. I can't remember the example used, but it was like, H2O, water, if broken down into it's individual elements, Hydrogen and Oxygen, would yield tremendous energy, since the molecular bond was so strong. I can't even remember how they were going to do it. It is just another pipe dream, that never got off the ground. Like many of the ideas floated at one time or another, they would have gotten more of a result if they simply burned one dollar bills, and used the heat from that to help with a boiler. It would have saved money in the long run.