‘Critical phase’ for Iter fusion dream

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The world's largest bid to harness the power of fusion has entered a "critical" phase in southern France.


The Iter project at Cadarache in Provence is receiving the first of about one million components for its experimental reactor.

Dogged by massive cost rises and long delays, building work is currently nearly two years behind schedule.

The construction of the key building has even been altered to allow for the late delivery of key components.

"We're not hiding anything – it's incredibly frustrating," David Campbell, a deputy director, told BBC News.

"Now we're doing everything we can to recover as much time as possible.

"The project is inspiring enough to give you the energy to carry on – we'd all like to see fusion energy as soon as possible."

Written By: David Shukman
continue to source article at bbc.co.uk

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  1. Iter brings together the scientific and political weight of governments representing more than half the world’s population – including the European Union, which is supporting nearly half the cost of the project, together with China, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States.

    What, why no oil countries?

    • In reply to #1 by DHudson:

      Iter brings together the scientific and political weight of governments representing more than half the world’s population – including the European Union, which is supporting nearly half the cost of the project, together with China, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States.

      What, why…

      Money, they have plenty of it. But no technological expertise or brilliant brains on offer. Not invited, sorry!

      • In reply to #8 by Lonard:

        Money, they have plenty of it. But no technological expertise or brilliant brains on offer. Not invited, sorry!

        Hmm, that sounds familiar.

        Maybe they just don’t see it as a good investment?

  2. Assuming Iter does succeed in proving that fusion can produce more power than it consumes, the next step will be for the international partners to follow up with a technology demonstration project – a test-bed for the components and systems needed for a commercial reactor.

    .Ironically, the greater the progress, the more apparent becomes the scale of the challenge of devising a fusion reactor that will be ready for market.

    This is a long term solution to carbon-free power generation without nuclear waste.

    http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/06/what-is-energy-content-of-earths-water.html

    What is the energy content of Earth’s Water for D-D (Deuterium-Deuterium) fusion?

    Each cubic meter of seawater contains about 1.028 x 10e25 atoms of deuterium with a mass of around 34.4 grams is equivalent to the heat combustion of 269 metric tons of coal, or of 1,360 barrels of crude oil.
    The world resource of seawater’s deuterium is around a billion times the fossil fuel reserve.

    Fusion reactors in conjunction with VASIMR plasma rocket engines, could also be our ticket to interplanetary or inter-stellar travel .

  3. I am not a physics guy, therefore I am a bit puzzled. You cannot produce more power than you consume. Ia this sentence an oversimplification? Is it saying that there is energy created?

    I am visualizing that it is an extremely exothermic reaction and that it will produce more heat than it consumes, but, doesn’t the energy have to be inherent in the system in order to be released?

    Can anyone educate me?

    • In reply to #4 by crookedshoes:

      I am not a physics guy, therefore I am a bit puzzled. You cannot produce more power than you consume. Ia this sentence an oversimplification? Is it saying that there is energy created?

      I am visualizing that it is an extremely exothermic reaction and that it will produce more heat than it consume.

      It takes a huge amount of energy to both heat and squeeze the plasma (magnetically) to bring it to the state where fusion will occur. This is the primary power budget of the process. The JET tokomak at Culham was too small to get anything but brief energy surplusses. A big machine is likely to be far less wasteful of the input energy. A big blob of hot plasma has a better ratio of energy generating (fusing) volume to energy losing surface during the heat and squeeze, than a small one. Big enough blobs can sustain the fusion process using only the gravity of the mass of the fuel for sufficient squeezing. The blobs have to be bigger than Jupiter though.

      (Exothermic is possibly also making you think in chemical reaction terms. No primary chemistry here though, just brute physics. Destroying a little bit of the matter, which is what happens in the fusion process, releases C squared times that amount of energy.)

      • Phil,
        Thanks, your last sentence absolutely sealed the deal for me. I get it. Nothing quite like c squared!!!

        In reply to #5 by phil rimmer:

        In reply to #4 by crookedshoes:

        I am not a physics guy, therefore I am a bit puzzled. You cannot produce more power than you consume. Ia this sentence an oversimplification? Is it saying that there is energy created?

        I am visualizing that it is an extremely exothermic reaction and that it will…

    • In reply to #4 by crookedshoes:

      I am not a physics guy, therefore I am a bit puzzled. You cannot produce more power than you consume. Ia this sentence an oversimplification? Is it saying that there is energy created?

      The potential energy is there in the fusing nuclei. If you shove nuclei together hard enough, the strong nuclear force pulling the protons together overcomes their electrical (positive-positive) repulsion – therein lies the start-up energy cost. The new fused nucleus has a lower overall energy so the surplus is released in the form of high-energy photons and other particles (depending on the reactants chosen).

      Like using magnesium ribbon to start thermite, the trick is to put in enough energy to create enough fusing nuclei per second to generate the heat needed to keep everything hot enough to fuse spontaneously without further input whilst powering the magnetic containment required to stop the aforementioned energetic ionised particles wreaking merry hell with the surroundings and bleeding energy away from the reaction.

      (Well that was possibly the longest sentence I’ve ever written…)

    • In reply to #10 by Roedy:

      It is strange how large the equipment has to be to deal with individual atoms.

      Individual atoms releasing a few million times more energy than the equivalent mass of oil. I suspect it’s also part of a contingency plan to stop a malfunction creating a very large hole in more than the tokamak. Does all that enormous shielding feel better now? 😛

    • In reply to #10 by Roedy:

      It is strange how large the equipment has to be to deal with individual atoms.

      Yes. I get the same feeling when looking at the Large Hadron Collider. It seems like a bit of a paradox that such huge and power hungry equipment is required to collide infinitesimally small particles into one another.

    • In reply to #12 by RSingh:

      generalfusion.com may just outdo what ITER is making us believe to be so much complicated!

      generalfusion.com

      Many thanks for pointing at this. The hybrid approach using mechanical and magnet compression may enhance the efficiency but it seems more complex and not less as a result and putting complex moving parts into an apparatus that will become quite radioactive makes for difficult maintenance.

      Also the slower compression rate may increase difficulties of plasma stability, (one of the main problems of tokomak magnetic squeezers, where the ring of plasma would twist and writhe out of the magnetic compression sweet spot). The finite number of “slow” pistons will always be its weakness. But hey, they are the ones who have done the sums and I most certainly wish it well…

  4. Even if this technology were ready to demonstrate, I would be surprised if it would be cheaper to deploy than solar.

    I presume big oil would prefer this would replace it. It can be centrally controlled and priced.

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