aircooled
aircooled MegaDork
9/14/22 4:42 p.m.

Because this got some interest in the other Energy thread (which had a questionable start) and that is now discussing more residential issues.  I found this video on the current state of Nuclear Fusion very informative on fusion power in general, but also a bit hopeful, if what they are saying is true, and if some advancements can be made, about what one company is developing (very apparently not in secret).

To hit the main points for those who don't want to watch the video:

- Deuterium and Helium 3 are the fuel (VERY small amounts): Deuterium, super common and is in sea water.  Helium 3 is common on the moon, but can be created from Sea water also.

- The reactor is a sort of self-containing plasma (no huge magnetic containment vessels) rail gun.  Which means it runs a bit more like an IC engine than a steam engine (like a nuclear fission reactor plant does).  It has a firing rate (rpm if you will).

- The idea is to capture the electrical and magnetic results of the fusion directly, rather than the heat (as in a Fission reactor plant).  Making a power plant MUCH simpler.

- It does have an exhaust in the form of heat (don't worry, only a couple million degrees....).  But this does not seem to be a primary issue (?)

- There is radioactive waste, but it's not clear how radioactive, and it's the "combustion" (actually fission) chamber lining, not the fuel.  Sort of a question mark here.

- The primary hurdle they seem to state at this point is what to make the fission chamber out of since millions of degrees (magnetically isolated, so no direct contact) can be a bit hard on typical materials.

- Could result in very cheap base load electricity, that could be generated in many small plants (a huge advantage) rather then a few big ones.

 

One interesting, sort of fantastical result of this, might be, in the future, if you can make them small enough, is a vehicle, powered by a small fusion plant (electric drive) that is fueled.... by water!  Just stay away from the exhaust!!!!!!

 

 

Oh, and I also wanted to note (guess) that although this seems like a prime investment opportunity (as someone here has stated), my suspicion (if this is truly viable) would be this would go the way of most Pharma developments.  The initial research is done in (generally government funded) universities.  When they find something of potential, those researches (or others) take that research and create a startup (normally with venture capital money).  If that results in a more marketable result, that company is bought by a larger Pharma company, making the founders and investors a lot of money. 

So, I suspect, it is highly unlikely the common citizen will be able to invest in it until it is bought out be a large company (e.g. GE, Chevron etc)

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
9/14/22 7:43 p.m.

This step is still a long way off.  There are other smaller steps that should be made along the way. 

Slippery
Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/14/22 7:47 p.m.

In reply to AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) :

Do you think this is because not enough resources are allocated to it or its just too complex a thing?

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/14/22 8:48 p.m.
Slippery said:

In reply to AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) :

Do you think this is because not enough resources are allocated to it or its just too complex a thing?

There is a multi billion dollar very international tokamak that is being worked on- it's not a resource problem. 

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia UltraDork
9/14/22 9:15 p.m.

What is Rolls Royce working on ?

something about very small nuclear generators ....

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/15/22 10:15 a.m.

One more thing, this isn't THE future of fusion- but it is one of the many paths being tried. 
 

I saw some info on another idea, where it used a destructive process on a small plastic thing (which held the duterium). I have no idea how they can make it repeating, as the process required a massive clean up after every attempt. 
 

This one does appear to be very promising. 

slefain
slefain UltimaDork
9/15/22 10:32 a.m.

As a long time player of Total Annihilation I can attest that the first goal should always be getting a fusion reactor up and running.

It seems that progress on fusion has been accelerating over the last few years. Maybe I'll see it in my lifetime.

Noddaz
Noddaz GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/15/22 8:52 p.m.

Is it still 30 years out?

aircooled
aircooled MegaDork
9/15/22 9:15 p.m.

Really almost impossible to say.  They did note in the video that the energy return in Fusion seems to be following a linear progression of progress.   Of course getting net energy doesn't mean it's quickly repeatable.

DrMikeCSI
DrMikeCSI New Reader
9/15/22 9:27 p.m.

I read an article in Omni magazine back in the 1980's about how the coming small fusion reactors would be taking over power production soon. I think that sustained fusion is a lot harder then anyone realized. 

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE SuperDork
9/15/22 11:19 p.m.
aircooled said:

- There is radioactive waste, but it's not clear how radioactive, and it's the "combustion" (actually fission) chamber lining, not the fuel.  Sort of a question mark here.

Oh, and I also wanted to note (guess) that although this seems like a prime investment opportunity (as someone here has stated), my suspicion (if this is truly viable) would be this would go the way of most Pharma developments.  The initial research is done in (generally government funded) universities.  When they find something of potential, those researches (or others) take that research and create a startup (normally with venture capital money).  If that results in a more marketable result, that company is bought by a larger Pharma company, making the founders and investors a lot of money.

So, I suspect, it is highly unlikely the common citizen will be able to invest in it until it is bought out be a large company (e.g. GE, Chevron etc)

Radioactive waste is because all nuclear reactions like this generate neutron radiation, basically where a neutron is given a E36 M3load of speed and flies off randomly. It has no charge so it's not attacted to anything- except by gravity- but eventually, one hits another atom hard enough to become apart of it's atomic structure. Thing is tho, unlike protons (which would make it into a new element, aka transmutation) it adds more mass and nuclear forces, eventually leading to decay since now that thing has one more that it shouldn't- and that instability, is radiation, stuff trying to get stable. As an example, the tractors and firefighting equipment at Chernobyl that are radioactive? That's neutron radiation, and it's what this would generate. The internal material facing that plasma arc would be what would be irradiated. Thankfully it's a particle and not a wave, so you're not exactly needing the gamma-protection degree stuff.

Could be a prime investment opportunity. Your phone screen and Google are other examples of things invented on government grant money later to be bought and refined- now if only we could keep the creator from just sitting on the copyright...

chaparral
chaparral Dork
9/16/22 12:14 p.m.

A note on scale: the power output to power input ratio gets better as the size of the equipment gets bigger. JET has achieved "ignition" where more energy is given off than is put in, ITER is expected to have enough excess output that a thermal-to-electrical conversion can still provide enough energy to run it, and further systems will get even bigger.

It's likely that the first utility-connected plant will be >50 GW electrical and >200 GW thermal - and have a low uptime ratio. That'll be fun to balance on the grid. 

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