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Author Topic:   Fusion Power on the way - at last ?
PaulK
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(3)
Message 1 of 130 (738802)
10-16-2014 2:09 AM


Lockheed-Martin's Skunk Works division claims to have made a breakthrough, with the possibility of working devices in 5 years and commercial availability in 10.

There are still some hurdles to overcome, and viable fusion power has been pretty elusive, but the Skunk Works have built up quite a reputation. I think that this is worth taking seriously.

Lockheed Martin claims technological breakthrough in compact fusion

Edited by PaulK, : No reason given.


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RAZD
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Posts: 19509
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.3


Message 2 of 130 (738844)
10-16-2014 1:51 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by PaulK
10-16-2014 2:09 AM


Let me know when it generates more power than it consumes ...


we are limited in our ability to understand
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RebelAmerican☆Zen☯Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


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Percy
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Posts: 17332
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.1


Message 3 of 130 (738851)
10-16-2014 2:48 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by PaulK
10-16-2014 2:09 AM


This was probably already old when I first heard it back in the 1970's: "Fusion is the power of the future and always will be."

I do think the technology problems are solvable, just economically infeasible. We need to economically duplicate the enormous pressure at the center of sun without the sun's gravity. Enormous pressures can be brought to bear on tiny volumes, but expand the volume to produce meaningful amounts of power and the containment power requirements and problems swell enormously.

I believe that if we ever see sustainable fusion power it will be from cold fusion techniques, but nothing's ever come of them. Cold fusion research has taught us the difficulty of performing accurate calorimeter experiments, but it hasn't brought the fusion age any nearer.

--Percy


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ramoss
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Posts: 3076
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Message 4 of 130 (738859)
10-16-2014 5:23 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Percy
10-16-2014 2:48 PM


The one thing about the Skunk works design is that is it much much simpler than the current design. IF (and that is a big one), there is a design that actually works, I suspect it will be a simpler design rather than the monstrosity that people have been testing the last bunch of years.

I am skeptical, but the same time,I truly hope I am wrong.


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ramoss
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Posts: 3076
Joined: 08-11-2004


Message 5 of 130 (739952)
10-30-2014 2:58 AM


It looks like that University of Washington has similar ideas.

http://www.washington.edu/...cept-could-be-cheaper-than-coal

I am still skeptical, but it is both interesting, and hopeful that you have two separate groups independently pursuing similar concepts.


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Percy
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Posts: 17332
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.1


Message 6 of 130 (739960)
10-30-2014 8:10 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by ramoss
10-30-2014 2:58 AM


My skepticism isn't based on the specifics of any particular approach. Fusion in the sun has a containment vessel 850,000 miles in diameter. Scientists believe a star must be at least 80,000 miles in diameter to produce fusion temperatures and pressures (Size of Smallest Possible Star Pinned Down). We need a containment vessel capable of continuously maintaining fusion temperatures and pressures like those in a star but of a tiny, tiny, tiny size. This seems like a very, very, very difficult problem.

All but one successful fusion power experiments have consumed more power than they produced and were of an instantaneous, not continuous, nature. The one exception that produced more power than it consumed took place last year. The very slow rate of progress is very convincing evidence of the extreme difficulty of the problem.

Generating more power than consumed is just the simplest problem, but it's a prerequisite for the more important and even more difficult problem of creating a self-sustaining fusion reaction. If it's taken 50 years of research to obtain more power than consumed just once, how long might it take to produce a self-sustaining fusion reaction? I believe it will be a very long time and be too complex to be economically feasible.

I don't think this should surprise people. Many things that are technologically possible are not economically feasible. Right now another form of energy production is on the verge of becoming economically infeasible, hydrofracking. Oil has only to drop another $10-20 per barrel and that will be the end of hydrofracking for the time being.

--Percy


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Jon
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 7 of 130 (739969)
10-30-2014 10:04 AM
Reply to: Message 2 by RAZD
10-16-2014 1:51 PM


All Good Things Suck At First
Don't be so quick to knock new energy technologies. Not many were efficient first time out of the gate. And if everyone had adopted your dismissive attitude, we'd still be lighting our houses with lamps and riding around on animals (that is, the very few of us who'd be able to afford such luxurious technologies).

quote:
Ian Morris in Why the West RulesFor Now (2010):

The first working Western pump, the "Miner's Friend," was patented in England in 1698. It burned coal to boil water and then condensed the steam into a vacuum, whereupon operators opened a valve and the vacuum sucked water up from the mine. Now closing the valve, workers stoked the fires to boil this water, too, into steam; and then repeated the gravity-defying process of boiling and condensing over and over again.

...

For decades, this inefficiency restricted steam power to the single job of pumping out coal mines, and even for that, one owner complained, "the vast consumption of fuel of these engines is an immense drawback on the profit of our mines . . . This heavy tax amounts almost to a prohibition." For any business that had to ship coal from mines to factories, steam engines were just too expensive.

Engines were, however, fun for professors. Glasgow University bought a miniature example, but when none of the scholars could get it to work, it made its way in 1765 to the workshop of James Watt, Mathematical Instrument Maker to the University. Watt got it going, but its inefficiency sinned against his craftsman's soul. In between other tasks he obsessed about better ways to evaporate and condense water, until... (p. 494)


Tinkering for improvements in a science lab despite all apparent obstacles is what's made our world what it is today. And no one remembers the names of the sceptics, because they only got in the way.

Jon

Edited by Jon, : No reason given.


Love your enemies!

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RAZD
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Posts: 19509
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.3


Message 8 of 130 (740078)
10-31-2014 5:05 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Jon
10-30-2014 10:04 AM


Re: All Good Things Suck At First
Don't be so quick to knock new energy technologies. ...

But I'm not knocking it, I'm just stating the metric for when I will consider it a success.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
RebelAmerican☆Zen☯Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click)

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Jon
Inactive Member


Message 9 of 130 (740082)
10-31-2014 6:50 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by RAZD
10-31-2014 5:05 PM


Re: All Good Things Suck At First
Fusion is the only sensible alternative to fossil-fuel energy production. I don't see any of the current alternatives replacing fossil fuels so long as they remain abundant-enough to make them economically feasible.

We will either run out of fossil fuels and be forced to switch to less desirable alternatives like wind, hydro, or solar; or we will switch willingly to fusion power.

All that said, I see any development in fusion as a success.

Edited by Jon, : No reason given.


Love your enemies!

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Replies to this message:
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RAZD
Member
Posts: 19509
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 2.3


(1)
Message 10 of 130 (740226)
11-03-2014 9:12 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Jon
10-31-2014 6:50 PM


Re: All Good Things Suck At First
We will either run out of fossil fuels and be forced to switch to less desirable alternatives like wind, hydro, or solar; ...

Your opinion, which seems a tad bit hypocritical vis-a-vis your position on cold fusion ...

And not supported by facts. A recent article in

https://solarthermalmagazine.com/

showed that homes that invested in solar systems had higher resale value and recouped more than the installation cost.

Relatively small investment with long-term gain.

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
RebelAmerican☆Zen☯Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click)

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ringo
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Posts: 14636
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 1.4


Message 11 of 130 (740267)
11-03-2014 12:12 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Jon
10-31-2014 6:50 PM


Re: All Good Things Suck At First
Jon writes:

Fusion is the only sensible alternative to fossil-fuel energy production.


Do you see fusion as a sensible alternative to the fossil-fuel-burner in your Toyota?
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Jon
Inactive Member


Message 12 of 130 (740269)
11-03-2014 12:24 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by ringo
11-03-2014 12:12 PM


Re: All Good Things Suck At First
Do you see fusion as a sensible alternative to the fossil-fuel-burner in your Toyota?

Yes.


Love your enemies!

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 Message 11 by ringo, posted 11-03-2014 12:12 PM ringo has acknowledged this reply

  
Jon
Inactive Member


Message 13 of 130 (740274)
11-03-2014 1:29 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by RAZD
11-03-2014 9:12 AM


Re: All Good Things Suck At First
showed that homes that invested in solar systems had higher resale value and recouped more than the installation cost.

Sure. The alternatives have benefits and uses. But those benefits are minimal and uses are limited to special circumstances. Solar power doesn't work in areas with little sunlight. Hydro power doesn't work in a desert. And so on.

Land use is also a concern with these alternatives:

quote:
"Land Requirements for PV Versus Coal Energy Generation" from The Energy Collective:

Heres the summary then of what we need to meet our annual energy requirements:

  • coal mining requires around 1100km2 of land, or 33km X 33km
  • solar requires around 2500km2 of land, or 50km X 50kms
So thats about double the space for solar, at worst, being pretty conservative.

quote:
"Report Counts up Solar Power Land Use Needs" from IEEE Spectrum:

One study looked at what it would take to produce 10 percent and 100 percent of the whole world's power from various sources, and found nuclear and geothermal energy at the very lowest end of area needs, followed by coal, CSP, and natural gas.


And because each of these alternatives is geographically restricted, no one of them can become a sole and dominate form of energy production. Thus, a world dominated by the current alternatives to fossil fuels would fail to take advantage of the benefits of economies of scale.

On the other hand, fusion plants, like coal plants, can be built anywhere, which means they are feasible as a sole and dominate form of energy production and thus possess all the benefits of economies of scale that go along with this.

And this doesn't even get into the issue of diseconomies of scale:

quote:
Wikipedia on Fusion Power:

Another aspect of fusion energy is that the cost of production does not suffer from diseconomies of scale. The cost of water and wind energy, for example, goes up as the optimal locations are developed first, while further generators must be sited in less ideal conditions. With fusion energy the production cost will not increase much even if large numbers of plants are built, because the raw resource (seawater) is abundant and widespread.


Solar, wind, hydro, etc. are simply not feasible alternatives to fossil fuels so long as we have an abundant-enough supply of the latter.

Fusion power, though is better than fossil fuel power, and tremendously so. In a world with fossil fuel production, hydro, solar, wind, etc. have little chance competing. In a world with fusion power, no other method has any chance of competing.

Fusion is the future.


Love your enemies!

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Percy
Member
Posts: 17332
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.1


(4)
Message 14 of 130 (740277)
11-03-2014 1:36 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Jon
11-03-2014 1:29 PM


Re: All Good Things Suck At First
Jon writes:

Fusion is the future.

And always will be.

--Percy


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Tempe 12ft Chicken
Member
Posts: 436
From: Tempe, Az.
Joined: 10-25-2012


Message 15 of 130 (740280)
11-03-2014 2:07 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Jon
10-31-2014 6:50 PM


Re: All Good Things Suck At First
Jon writes:

Fusion is the only sensible alternative to fossil-fuel energy production. I don't see any of the current alternatives replacing fossil fuels so long as they remain abundant-enough to make them economically feasible.

So, only Fusion is a sensible alternative to fossil fuels? What about our friend nuclear fission, which still has the lowest death toll for all available power sources? Sure, it has waste to deal with that fusion would not, but there are feasible solutions for the waste if we could get countries to work together and focus on a solution in this area. There is Yucca Mountain (which currently sits as the most expensive hole in the ground ever), dropping it in sealed casks near a subduction zone, or boreholes.

Of course Fusion, with its lack of dangerous waste products would be ideal, but to say that it is the only sensible option seems a bit premature to me. Personally, if we are aiming for energy independence, I think we should increase the amount of fission reactors we have operating in the United States, especially while we wait for fusion to provide the innovation for the next step. Switching to more nuclear power would allow the scientists time to continue to work through the problems that are being mentioned, while still reducing the reliance on fossil fuels...I'd say that seems pretty sensible.

Radioactive Waste Management

Deaths from Nuclear Energy compared with other causes

Edited by Tempe 12ft Chicken, : No reason given.


The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle capable of explaining the existence of organized complexity. - Richard Dawkins

Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night. - Issac Asimov

If you removed all the arteries, veins, & capillaries from a persons body, and tied them end-to-endthe person will die. - Neil Degrasse Tyson

What would Buddha do? Nothing! What does the Buddhist terrorist do? Goes into the middle of the street, takes the gas, *pfft*, Self-Barbecue. The Christian and the Muslim on either side are yelling, "What the Fuck are you doing?" The Buddhist says, "Making you deal with your shit. - Robin Williams


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