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Science Forum

  1. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    03 Jul '16 08:48
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkpqA8yG9T4
  2. 03 Jul '16 10:20 / 10 edits
    I am absolutely certain that they could both make it cost effective and then scale up to generate much of our electricity from it eventually.

    My only concern is, by the time they are in a position to do that, I wonder if renewables would have become so cost effective and it would be so easy for us to go 100% renewable that there would be no point in bothering with fusion in which case they would be wasting time money and resources on it when that time money and resources could be spent on other things, such as extra time money and resources for renewables to speed up their development etc.
    I think if it would take more than ~40 years to both develop and deploy their fusion, they certainly should forget it and stop all funding to it.
    Of course, I cannot predict how long.
    I think there needs to be a proper assessment on what sort of time scale we are taking about here. The big dilemma I see is that no such proper assessment may be possible until we have already spend a huge amount of time money and resources on it.
  3. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    03 Jul '16 10:57 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by humy
    I am absolutely certain that they could both make it cost effective and then scale up to generate much of our electricity from it eventually.

    My only concern is, by the time they are in a position to do that, I wonder if renewables would have become so cost effective and it would be so easy for us to go 100% renewable that there would be no poi ...[text shortened]... ent may be possible until we have already spend a huge amount of time money and resources on it.
    Did you listen to the whole talk? It is based on some really innovative thinking by the young scientists in his team, starting with the new superconductor magnets capable of much higher field strengths and other engineering breakthroughs like the replaceable superconductors where you can remove the inner components which are built with 3D printing with innovations in cooling and the liquid used to convert the neutrons to heat.

    My question is, what happens to ITER if this group or any one of the other groups pursuing fusion actually succeed?

    I also wonder if the folks building ITER are aware of the new superconductor material and could use it in their build or if they are too hide bound and stuck with older technology? Remember, ITER isn't even designed to actually make electricity, it is just a proof of concept thing.

    Whyte is talking about reducing the size down to something you could put on a flat bed truck and still generate 200 megawatts.

    If they succeed it will also spark work on space propulsion, opening up at least the whole solar system to human exploration, getting to Jupiter in a couple of months for instance, mars in a couple of weeks.
  4. 03 Jul '16 11:47 / 3 edits
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Did you listen to the whole talk?
    I admit I just don't have the patients to do that.
    From another thread, I already knew about the huge improvement in magnetic field strengths now available to them and how that promises to significantly improve fusion.
  5. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    03 Jul '16 17:14
    Originally posted by humy
    I admit I just don't have the patients to do that.
    From another thread, I already knew about the huge improvement in magnetic field strengths now available to them and how that promises to significantly improve fusion.
    It seems just doubling the field strength allows making it ten times smaller. The interesting part about the superconducting ribbon is the superconductor portion is 1 MICRON thick yet conducts over 1000 amps of current.

    I sent in some questions to Whyte's site, hope I get some answers.

    I wonder if you get much improvement if you double the thickness to 2 microns, 20,000 Angstroms?
  6. 03 Jul '16 18:36
    Originally posted by humy
    I think there needs to be a proper assessment on what sort of time scale we are taking about here. The big dilemma I see is that no such proper assessment may be possible until we have already spend a huge amount of time money and resources on it.
    I have watched the talk and the good news is that much of the spending on this particular project will by the private sector. In addition much of the work well produce useful science whether or not the fusion power becomes viable in the near term.
    But I share your overall concern that large expense by governments at this stage is probably a waste of resources - especially given that government projects tend to be rather good at wasting money.

    As for renewables, it would be interesting to know just how long it will take to feasibly install enough solar to replace coal power. This year solar and wind are officially cheaper than coal in some instances. In the US, rooftop solar is more expensive than coal but because of infrastructure costs, it is cheaper than what people pay at the meter, so solar is already a good buy. But if everyone decided tomorrow to go solar, there simply wouldn't be enough production to keep up. So the issue is how fast production can ramp up to meet demand.
  7. 03 Jul '16 18:40
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    I wonder if you get much improvement if you double the thickness to 2 microns, 20,000 Angstroms?
    The issue isn't 'how much current can you squeeze through it'. After all, you can just add more coils. The issue previously was that superconductors tended to stop working if the magnetic field went over a certain strength. In this design the limits are not being pushed as far as current is concerned so no need for more current.
  8. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    04 Jul '16 14:19 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    The issue isn't 'how much current can you squeeze through it'. After all, you can just add more coils. The issue previously was that superconductors tended to stop working if the magnetic field went over a certain strength. In this design the limits are not being pushed as far as current is concerned so no need for more current.
    There would be an issue with size however, if you have to increase the coil length and such, the whole affair gets bigger and would defeat the purpose. The other issue would be the support structure which seems to have to withstand some 5000 atmospheres of magnetic pressure. That is about 150,000 PSI, a healthy stress! If the magnetic field doubled again and the stress was linear, we would be talking 300,000 PSI and that in turn could mean twice the metal to withstand that force. If so, the plasma core could get smaller at the expense of making the support structure twice as large and twice as heavy so it would seem to have a limiting factor there unless much stronger metals were developed that was both non magnetic and twice as strong as the metal used for this project.

    If it succeeds it may be about as small as you can physically make a reactor like that, at least for magnetic confinement. It will take some doing to get inertial systems (lasers) to get much smaller than they are now assuming they can go beyond mere ignition into high Q territory.

    It's really weird to think of the plasma, it wants to be at some number higher than atmopshere, I forget the actual number, 10 atmospheres maybe, but surrounded by a good vacuum. Quite a trick. And then keep it at 100 million degrees for some significant amount of time and extract the heat to go to a traditional heat exchanger/turbine affair.

    ITER seems hidebound and unable to use the latest technologies of superconductors much less replaceable parts.

    They are going to have major egg on their face if the MIT crew succeeds for a few hundred million when ITER is bleeding money by the billions.