Originally posted by AThousandYoung
What happens if the thing works? Does the station explode in a thermonuclear crater?
The kind of reaction they are talking about would be a long running series of shots say 1/10th of a second apart where each shot would produce some megawatt # of power but the little eraser sized pellet would be of course evaporated and obliterated by the pulse of energy coming off it when the fusion reaction takes place.
So it would be a fusion bomb but a tiny one, like they mentioned, they ultimately want 20 to 50 times the energy out as the energy in and if fusion happens and it takes like they mentioned, 1 megajoule per shot, then each reaction would want to produce 10 or more megajoules of energy.
What comes out of the magnetic confinement dudes, the Tokamat set, is a hundred megajoules and maybe 50 megajoules coming out in fusion. Fusion is actually taking place but not enough to make break even, where 100 megajoules of energy in makes 100 megajoules of energy out. At that point you have proved your point that you can make break even but even at that you have a lot of work to do to make it commercially feasible, you need 20 times the energy out V in to make it economically practical.
These experiments so far have just shown you can in fact zap a pencil eraser sized capsule with 1 megajoule and the thing concentrate Xrays evenly enough to cause compression of the fuel.
That is just one more step on the road to getting a viable reactor. A big step, for sure, but just one of several more left before the thing produces a lot more out than it takes to ignite the fusion reaction in the first place.
Even at that, it looks like maybe inertial confinement may beat Tokamaks to the finish line. News at 11.
To put that 1 megajoule in perspective, that is about the amount of energy given off every second by a burning couch.