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Is fusion based electric power 15 years away?

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Is fusion based electric power 15 years away?

Old 27th Nov 2018, 16:41
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Is fusion based electric power 15 years away?

Got another article sent to me about the progress the Chinese are making with fusion.
In this one, they are able to get some matter up to 100 million degrees Celsius. (whoa, that's hot).
The end result was a cloud of charged particles that contained electrons heated to more than 100 million degrees.
As I've been hearing since I was about 7, when my dad explained to me the difference between fission and fusion, we are about "15 years away from working fusion power plant" and we of course heard about that cold fusion "success" in the 80's and 90's that ... wasn't.
Are we now about 15 years from usable fusion power?
There is still the matter of putting together enough tritium to make it actually work, among other things.
Sure would be nice if this pans out.
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Old 27th Nov 2018, 17:06
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No, you’ve got maintain it and contain it and produce substantially more energy coming out than going in.

Fusion is 50 years away - fusion is always 50 years away......
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Old 27th Nov 2018, 17:44
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Nothing gets the old guys worked up like Free Energy.

I had a co-worker get soaked by some guys who promised free energy next week every week.
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Old 27th Nov 2018, 17:46
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Originally Posted by Lonewolf_50 View Post
and we of course heard about that cold fusion "success" in the 80's and 90's that ... wasn't.
A physicist in a Cambridge pub:

"Well, we've got it running in the lab, and it does indeed get warm [shrug]"
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Old 27th Nov 2018, 18:00
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Besides the quote of fifteen or twenty years away for the last fifty years, there is this:

"Fusion is the power source of the future and always will be."
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Old 27th Nov 2018, 22:04
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IMHO there are too many folk making squillions selling us the power we are consuming now.
Can you imaging all the jumping up and down etc if someone could give us free energy. They simply wouldn't let it happen.
Anyway who said "There is no such thing as a free lunch"
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Old 27th Nov 2018, 22:45
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Why not, if the universe itself is? If.

Should it prove to be so, one only has to tilt that balance slightly off centre and presto!

As much energy as you want . . . erm, until the continuum* folds itself up into a singularity again.





*Patrick Stuart calls it a continuum, so it must be right.
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Old 28th Nov 2018, 10:33
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"Don't you just love hydrogen? Pull it apart, you get energy. Put it back together, you get energy."
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Old 28th Nov 2018, 12:45
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Anyway who said "There is no such thing as a free lunch"
Robert Heinlein, TANSTAAFL, “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”.
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Old 28th Nov 2018, 18:25
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Quick dab of reality...
We as a species either invest substantially and find a way to harness Fusion power in a practical way or in the future we will indeed go back to living in caves and cooking over a wood fire (at best)....that isn't a prediction or a probability it is an absolute certainty based on all information on the planet's resources and energy sources we know about.
Solar, wind, water etc etc all use resources that are limited, all require some form of lubrication or battery or other limited resource that doesn't self reproduce and doesn't really provide sufficient energy to fully feed an entire economic industrial society that you need to produce the power source.
So the real question should be, why is so little of our GDP actually invested in our future? (as a species) and who is responsible for (and profiting from) such a lamentable situation.
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Old 28th Nov 2018, 18:40
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Originally Posted by Lantern10 View Post
IMHO there are too many folk making squillions selling us the power we are consuming now.
Can you imaging all the jumping up and down etc if someone could give us free energy. They simply wouldn't let it happen.
Anyway who said "There is no such thing as a free lunch"
Where did you get the impression that Nuclear Fusion would be free energy.

Currently the only place this happens is deep within stars.
To be able to recreate the specific conditions on earth requires incredibly high temperature and incredibly high pressures to overcome the electromagnetic force and allow the fusion of two hydrogen atoms to fuse and then the strong nuclear force to hold them together to form a helium atom. This results in a tiny loss of mass and hence a massive amount of energy.

This then needs to be sustained to provide a stable source of power.

Last edited by Buster15; 28th Nov 2018 at 19:07.
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Old 28th Nov 2018, 19:01
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Perhaps the tipping point has finally been reached with electric powered vehicles (see GM's just announced significant re-structuring of manufacturing allocations (newly purposed word to cover layoffs and closures) to focus on alternative power).

However it doesn't seem that the lithium supply can keep up with even current demands (has been faltering for years).
There might be a need for an alternative method if we want to surf the electric wave into the future.
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Old 28th Nov 2018, 19:21
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Originally Posted by HyFlyer View Post
Quick dab of reality...
We as a species either invest substantially and find a way to harness Fusion power in a practical way or in the future we will indeed go back to living in caves and cooking over a wood fire (at best)....
Niven points out that after a society collapses having consumed all its raw materials including fossil fuels, it'll have to go straight from cave dwelling to fusion in one hop to rebuild civilisation, with no coal, oil or uranium left for the intermediate stages. Which is a big ask.
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Old 29th Nov 2018, 05:49
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Where are the swamps full of decaying wood and animals that is supposed to be turning into the next lot of oil and coal? The whole process can't have just been a one-off ...or did Big G do it just to tease us?
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Old 29th Nov 2018, 07:19
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If electricity prices keep going up at the remarkable rate they are moving now, and its use becomes so exclusive that its reserved for just special occasions like running your i-thingy to check your mail, then I think we will be going back to candles before the first fusion generator comes online.
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Old 29th Nov 2018, 08:33
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Originally Posted by Ascend Charlie View Post
Where are the swamps full of decaying wood and animals that is supposed to be turning into the next lot of oil and coal?
Been repurposed to grow hamburgers and palm oil.
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Old 29th Nov 2018, 09:11
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China likes to share research that belongs to others.

Not so much research that belongs to them.

If they do crack it, do you think they will share it?

Beats me how they find the time, between manipulating weather patterns and launching artificial moons.
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Old 29th Nov 2018, 14:20
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and incredibly high pressures to overcome the electromagnetic force and allow the fusion of two hydrogen atoms to fuse
To be pedantic...not even these high pressures are enough, fusion only actually occurs because of quantum tunnelling.
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Old 29th Nov 2018, 18:46
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Originally Posted by Argonautical View Post
To be pedantic...not even these high pressures are enough, fusion only actually occurs because of quantum tunnelling.
That is a theory and bearing in mind the uncertainty principle of Quantum Mechanics ~ anybody who says they understand it is a liar (not my quote).

It is therefore simpler to explain it the way people could understand.
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Old 30th Nov 2018, 11:40
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Originally Posted by Buster15 View Post
To be pedantic...not even these high pressures are enough, fusion only actually occurs because of quantum tunnelling.
That is a theory and bearing in mind the uncertainty principle of Quantum Mechanics ~ anybody who says they understand it is a liar (not my quote).

It is therefore simpler to explain it the way people could understand.
Quantum tunneling and the uncertainty principle are actually the same thing.
An impenetrable barrier can be crossed simply because the essential uncertainty of a particle's position means that there is a finite probability that it is on the other side of the barrier.
So do it enough times and some of those times it actually will be on the other side.
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