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The State Of Fusion Research

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Paul F. Dietz wrote:

ITER wouldn't be worth funding even absent a financial crisis.

Carl Pham wrote:

I wish I could believe in fusion, I do. It's so intrinsically cool.

But it's been roughly 10 years away since at least 1976. So nowadays (I feel the same way about photovoltaics) I believe in artificial photosynthesis and nano fuel cells instead.

Yes, I do realize my Galactic citizenship can be revoked for heresy like this.

Karl Hallowell wrote:

ITER would be worth funding, if the price tag were lower. I think there's some value in scaling up an iffy model.

cthulhu wrote:

I think Carl Pham is off by 20 years: seems like fusion has been "10 years away" since the mid-fifties. Enough breakthroughs happen to get one's hopes up, then they fade away. I have pretty much given up on tokamaks and lasers; maybe Bussard's IEC will work (I'm still clapping for it to try to keep it alive), but he started work on it back in the late '70s.

I'm rooting for artificial photosynthesis as well; converting plant stalks into ethanol could be big, but transporting the waste to the processing plants is a unsexy but big problem.

Paul F. Dietz wrote:

It's my understanding that the breeding blanket alone of a DT reactor is going to cost as much as an entire fission reactor system of equal power. This cost is largely independent of the details of the confinement system.

Fusion makes the real problem of nuclear energy (high capital cost) worse, while trying to solve lesser or non- problems (waste disposal, fuel availability), and adding new problems (complexity, reliability, longevity). It's very much like the larger space program, existing on institutional inertia. A clean sheet energy policy would put almost nothing into fusion energy research.

Kelly Starks wrote:

You might want to look into polywell Fusion systems. Dr Bussard (one of the major founders of US fusion research) was frustrated with the near total focus on Tokomac designs (like ITER) which are now known to be commercially useless even if they could be made to work. He started his own research work on alternat simlper designs, adn the latest design seems to be working. He died close to 2 years ago, but his team delivered a report (which I beleave was fully peer reviewed) in August - Septenber, to the Navy that funds it. The new team leed says it will be released when the Navy wants.

Searching no polywell should get yuo more of a explanation.

Ironicaly the Navy had him on a gag order, not because they wanted it classified, but because they didn't want to get attacked by DOE for fundniging a compeating fusion researh project.


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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on October 21, 2008 8:23 AM.

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