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Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough.

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Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough.

Old 9th Feb 2022, 11:50
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Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough.

Another one. Maybe this time it's real.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-e...t-60312633.amp
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Old 9th Feb 2022, 12:33
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More impressive than when I took a reactor critical when I produced a heady 10mW according to the sums.

They say practical nuclear fusion is around 30 years away. Trouble is that number never comes down!
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Old 9th Feb 2022, 12:44
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“…produced enough power to run 60 kettles” doesn’t feel like a breakthrough - that would be ~180kW for about 5 seconds or 0.25kWh. They didn’t say whether that was total or surplus energy.
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Old 9th Feb 2022, 13:08
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On the long run this will be the way to go to generate affordable liquid hydrogen as a future fuel for transportation, including for clean aviation. It steel feels like it will take a while until we get there.
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Old 9th Feb 2022, 13:17
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Cold news ... ?
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Old 9th Feb 2022, 13:30
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this will be the way to go to generate affordable liquid hydrogen
It destroys Hydrogen and creates Helium (and some energy). If they manage to scale it and produce surplus energy then it’s probably good news, but that could be 30 years away 😆

And one wonders what we’ll do with all the Helium when we’re all bored with squeaky voice games.
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Old 9th Feb 2022, 13:31
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Originally Posted by Dan Dare View Post
“…produced enough power to run 60 kettles” doesn’t feel like a breakthrough - that would be ~180kW for about 5 seconds or 0.25kWh. They didn’t say whether that was total or surplus energy.
I don't think they meant run 60 kettles for 5s. They meant bring 60 kettles up to the boil from cold. 59MJ is about 16kWh.
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Old 9th Feb 2022, 13:35
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And where does the tritium fuel, with a half life of 12.3 years, come from? Yeah, you guessed it, fission reactors.........
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Old 9th Feb 2022, 14:06
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Originally Posted by Winemaker View Post
And where does the tritium fuel, with a half life of 12.3 years, come from? Yeah, you guessed it, fission reactors.........
One of the aims of ITER is to test tritium breeding designs for fusion reactors. Ultimately commercial contained (D-T) fusion will have to incorporate some technology that produces the required volume of tritium so it is an ongoing area of research (alongside containment technology).
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Old 9th Feb 2022, 15:13
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Originally Posted by Dan Dare View Post
It destroys Hydrogen and creates Helium (and some energy). If they manage to scale it and produce surplus energy then it’s probably good news, but that could be 30 years away 😆

And one wonders what we’ll do with all the Helium when we’re all bored with squeaky voice games.
Helium is the most useful, but also most rare noble gas on earth.
Its use in cryogenics, especially for MRI scanners, is widespread.
There are few (any?) economic ways to create helium. It is found on earth as a radioactive decay product of uranium in a few underground natural gas fields.
Helium is separated from the other natural gas components, methane and nitrogen, by fractional distillation. We can probably guess what happens to the methane fraction.

Wiki explains how the price of helium has varied, and the effect of the main source being a protected asset - USA's National Helium Reserve.

A few years ago, many scientists were decrying the wasteful use of this scarce resource for (toy) helium balloons.

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Old 9th Feb 2022, 15:17
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Also, have a look at the Z-pinched plasma fusion experiments being undertaken by Zap Energy in the USA.
I'll try to post a link. www DOT zapenergyinc DOT com

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Old 9th Feb 2022, 17:30
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Originally Posted by Dan Dare View Post
It destroys Hydrogen and creates Helium (and some energy). If they manage to scale it and produce surplus energy then it’s probably good news, but that could be 30 years away 😆

And one wonders what we’ll do with all the Helium when we’re all bored with squeaky voice games.
I'll use it for cheap trimix diving, thank you very much
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Old 9th Feb 2022, 20:37
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This is significant.
However small the power output - it validates the science.
Hope I live long enough to see ITER light up.
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Old 9th Feb 2022, 21:24
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Originally Posted by TheReverend View Post

A few years ago, many scientists were decrying the wasteful use of this scarce resource for (toy) helium balloons.

Rev
I think I recall reading at the time that balloon helium is not usable for anything else: the quality/purity needed for MRI etc is completely different.
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Old 9th Feb 2022, 21:41
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Originally Posted by Dan Dare View Post
“…produced enough power to run 60 kettles” doesn’t feel like a breakthrough - that would be ~180kW for about 5 seconds or 0.25kWh. They didn’t say whether that was total or surplus energy.
On the radio they said they got less energy out than they put in.
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Old 10th Feb 2022, 10:35
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Originally Posted by Tartiflette Fan View Post
I think I recall reading at the time that balloon helium is not usable for anything else: the quality/purity needed for MRI etc is completely different.
Certainly true. You wouldn't need to spend the time and effort removing a few percent nitrogen and even less neon by fractional distillation. Just so long as the impure gas mix was significantly lighter than air.
However; ALL helium comes from the same finite source - certain underground gas fields near uranium deposits. It is neither trivial nor cheap to extract and purify.
That impure balloon gas could have been distilled for MRI use.

(Qatar now produces over 150 thousand cubic metres of helium each year. That's around 25% of the world's helium supply. Something to fall back on when the demand for crude wanes?)

Rev
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Old 10th Feb 2022, 20:12
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Originally Posted by munnst View Post
On the radio they said they got less energy out than they put in.
second law of thermodynamics...
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Old 10th Feb 2022, 22:02
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Originally Posted by Pugilistic Animus View Post
second law of thermodynamics...
Yup, precisely what happened in 1958. But we knew then, too, what was happening to the 'lost' energy. Melting the walls of the containment vessel. (Zeta, for those with long memories.)
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Old 11th Feb 2022, 18:16
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For all the hype about 'renewable' energy such as wind and solar, fusion is really the only long-term answer to supplying huge amounts of energy to power our economies in the future.
I was recently in Colorado - it reminded me of the Comanche coal fired powerplant just outside of Pueblo (I wrote a paper on it back in my college days). It's big - ~1.4 gigawatts - and has dedicated coal trains to supply the needed fuel (and of course releases massive amounts of CO2). Although it also provides residential users, Comanche is largely used to supply electrical power to large industrial users such as the electric furnaces at the nearby steel mill.
Black Hills - the electrical utility than runs it - has pledged to take it off-line by 2040 to meet climate goals, but that naturally leaves the question of how to replace that 1.4 gig of electrical generation. Black Hills would like to repurpose the site with 12 "small modular reactors" (SMR) - which would allow the re-use of much of the related infrastructure - but of course this has met resistance from the anti-nuke club. The existing facility occupies ~0.05 square miles. By comparison, providing similar generation capability with solar would require at least 17 square miles of solar, or 94 square miles of wind (and of course, solar and wind don't produce power 24/7).
If we are truly going to decarbonize our power generation, fusion is our best long-term hope. I really hope this new development pans out.
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Old 13th Feb 2022, 03:55
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Melting the walls of the container is an instant fail. It harms the walls, but the short term problem is the poisoning of the plasma. So, why was the lining of carbon tiles removed?

Every mm is vital. Getting near the walls is important when the magnets are so primitive. However, it required a radically improved containment of the plasma. It's taken a long while to achieve this. I'm struggling to remember the frequency - 3.5 gigs??? I don't know, but tuning the wave-front in the ring is the stuff of warp-drives. :-)

The magnets IIRC are copper Iron and severely limit the time which they can be powered.

The thing about JET is the ageing investment still has some astonishing features, notably, the flywheels. The gargantuan masses I recall rumble round at 700 rpm. The kinetic energy gives vast pulse which is, or used to be, added to what they can suck out of the National Grid. At the end of the day, it's a case of proving the science, not making the old kit light up the UK.

It's not generally known just how little energy the fusion in the sun's core produces. The odds on any one proton fusing is minute. Good job, or the sun would be gone in a flash. But the important thing is, one cubic metre of sun might only yield about as much heat as . . . well, me.
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