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Reset the timer! Five more years to fusion!

Lerticus

Senile Old Coot
Communism
The world's biggest nuclear fusion project has entered its five-year assembly phase.

After this is finished, the facility will be able to start generating the super-hot "plasma" required for fusion power.

The £18.2bn (€20bn; $23.5bn) facility has been under construction in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, southern France.
The next phase of "one day we will get this to happen, pinky promise!" is underway! See you in five years, where we will have only five more years to go!
 

Rufus Shinra

Well-known member
We don't call them giant pork barrels. They are tokamaks.

Nerd up your vocabulary! :geek:
Or, you know, it's advancing properly and is pretty much guaranteed to work because it's a brute force solution. Unlike communism, ITER doesn't need to change the laws of physics to work.
 

Lerticus

Senile Old Coot
Communism
Or, you know, it's advancing properly and is pretty much guaranteed to work because it's a brute force solution. Unlike communism, ITER doesn't need to change the laws of physics to work.
I am fully capable of brute force solutions myself. Your physics will fall if it is necessary!
 

Lerticus

Senile Old Coot
Communism
So... how much power will this thing be generating, assuming that it works?
Don't be silly. This will prove that they can build a thing that theoretically is functional. There will need to be five more years before they can upscale to actually generating power.
 

Rufus Shinra

Well-known member
So... how much power will this thing be generating, assuming that it works?
Don't be silly. This will prove that they can build a thing that theoretically is functional. There will need to be five more years before they can upscale to actually generating power.
Or, if you stop being stupidly sarcastic, you'll just check quickly and see that ITER never was designed to produce useable power for the electric grid, but to produce power, period. This will be a first in History, as the fusion reaction will produce more power than it consumes for being kept running. It's expected it will produce 500 MW, but its main use will be to further understand the mechanics of the reaction and to test different engineering solutions for the actual plants to be produced using the experience and technologies developped for this prototype. Which is precisely why it was built, if you're not parroting idiotic "fusion in twenty years forever" memes, that is.
 

Scottty

Active member
I have a few more questions, if you don't mind answering...

1) What is the intended mechanism for converting fusion energy into electricity? I suppose that the fusion setup could simply replace a coal furnace or nuclear fission pile as a source of heat to boil water and power a steam turbine, but is there perhaps some more elegant approach?
2) What is the process for an emergency stop, if they need to do that?
3) What about all the neutrons? In a fission reactor, neutrons are good, they're what makes it all happen, but for fusion I understand theyr'e more a useless by-product.
 

Rufus Shinra

Well-known member
1) What is the intended mechanism for converting fusion energy into electricity? I suppose that the fusion setup could simply replace a coal furnace or nuclear fission pile as a source of heat to boil water and power a steam turbine, but is there perhaps some more elegant approach?
No electricity production as of yet with ITER. The walls are designed to absorb neutrons and evacuate the energy to cooling systems. Actual energy production will come with DEMO, even though ITER will generate more power than it consumes. The power generation setups will benefit from the experience acquired with ITER.
2) What is the process for an emergency stop, if they need to do that?
Stop injecting hydrogen, that's it. The quantity of hydrogen in the tokamak is really small at a given time, and it's constantly being injected (one of the favoured concepts is some pellet cannon in the walls, IIRC). In a fission reactor, you've got days to years of fuel in the reactor at any time, not with a fusion. AKA, the scifi stories with a fusion reactor going bang are often nonsensical.
3) What about all the neutrons? In a fission reactor, neutrons are good, they're what makes it all happen, but for fusion I understand theyr'e more a useless by-product.
Absorbed by the walls, which, IIRC, reuse them for producing tritium from lithium.
 

IndyFront

Ξ⌊:Ξ≪⊕ `∧∀⊥∥'⌊: ∀∃∃∀⌊:⊕⌈≪⌊:⊕Γ.
Author
Would be nice if we could get some thorium some time soon.
 

IndyFront

Ξ⌊:Ξ≪⊕ `∧∀⊥∥'⌊: ∀∃∃∀⌊:⊕⌈≪⌊:⊕Γ.
Author
Putting thorium inside a tokamak sounds as if it would Bad Things Happen.
How very Spacebattlian of you, "I'm going to project my own inability to understand basic human discourse onto this intentionally-stupid strawman comment of my own imagination and shit all over my own strawman-sodden intentional-stupidity of the creation of my own unintentionally-stupid imagination" (I meant in general, obviously, as anyone who isn't susceptible to abhorrently and aggressively stupid strawman arguments will recognize.)
 

Scottty

Active member
How very Spacebattlian of you, "I'm going to project my own inability to understand basic human discourse onto this intentionally-stupid strawman comment of my own imagination and shit all over my own strawman-sodden intentional-stupidity of the creation of my own unintentionally-stupid imagination" (I meant in general, obviously, as anyone who isn't susceptible to abhorrently and aggressively stupid strawman arguments will recognize.)
I am perfectly aware that you really meant that you wanted to see Thorium-fueled fission powerplants come into service. Hardly on-topic for a discussion of fusion. Some would say that with fusion power getting serious about finally happening, ("It will happen, and it will happen in our lifetime") what you are asking for would be a step backwards.

So I was just making fun of your suggestion. Chill out.
 

Scottty

Active member
Mind you, given that even once fusion powerplants are up and running everywhere, cold-starting one will probably require a nontrivial initial input of power, there will probably be a place for fission power as well in the wonderful fusion-power economy of the future.

There will still be a place for coal-mining, for that matter. There are uses for the stuff other then burning it to boil water.
 

Rufus Shinra

Well-known member
Thorium fission plants aren't nearly as great as internet space cadets pretend they are. What you find as arguments in favour are usually a mixture of selective nitpicking, complete misunderstanding of how molten salt reactors would theoretically function, a list of theoretical advantages coming from dozens of different proposed designs, gathered together without logic (as if I said that a warship could be nuclear-powered while going on rivers, diving a thousand metres deep and carry hundreds of airplanes while being amphibious, just because I read stuff on individual ships doing each of these separately) and the parroting of unproven claims from teams who never got beyond theoretical design while ignoring the engineering issues.

Why, yes, I do have read actual books on molten salt reactors. Here, for example, on the proliferation section, they're explaining how some molten salt reactors can make weapons grade materials:

D4FC849B-204C-471F-AA39-108B22ADEC49.png

Oh, right, only some specific designs are inherently proliferation-safe, not all of them. And those that are have other issues. Thorium reactors are nowhere near the magical solution SBers and others act as if they were.
 
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Scottty

Active member
A short bit of online research on my part tells me that this Muh Thorium power would really be Uranium power in disguise.
To get useful energy out of thorium, one would first have to spray it with enough neutrons to transmute it.
And your source of neutrons? Well, you could get those from fusion, I suppose.

 

IndyFront

Ξ⌊:Ξ≪⊕ `∧∀⊥∥'⌊: ∀∃∃∀⌊:⊕⌈≪⌊:⊕Γ.
Author
To be fair, I think the 'x years for fusion to work' have been steadily decreasing.
We'll see, I've been of the opposite mind, that our species will begin to plateau as far as overall technological advancement goes - I hope I am wrong but the future looks pretty bleak, particularly when looking at the molestation that is going to befall our planet and all life on it due to the effects of human-induced climate change.
 

Terra Novan

Well-known member
Author
We'll see, I've been of the opposite mind, that our species will begin to plateau as far as overall technological advancement goes - I hope I am wrong but the future looks pretty bleak, particularly when looking at the molestation that is going to befall our planet and all life on it due to the effects of human-induced climate change.
I think we'll see it bearing fruit sometimes around the 30s-50s.
 

Scottty

Active member
We'll see, I've been of the opposite mind, that our species will begin to plateau as far as overall technological advancement goes - I hope I am wrong but the future looks pretty bleak, particularly when looking at the molestation that is going to befall our planet and all life on it due to the effects of human-induced climate change.
There's a potential bright side to that - some technologies are such that it may be better if they not be advanced further, due to the potential for abuse. I've a feeling that over the long term, human civilization tends towards dystopia, unless something pushes the reset button now and then.

But I think you know that I'm not too impressed with the whole Muh Climate Change. The world has been both warmer and colder than now, within historical time.
The real danger is from all the strange chemicals that modern industry is dumping into the water supply. The biosphere can deal with a bit more CO2 - it's plastic that is bad for it.
 

IndyFront

Ξ⌊:Ξ≪⊕ `∧∀⊥∥'⌊: ∀∃∃∀⌊:⊕⌈≪⌊:⊕Γ.
Author
There's a potential bright side to that - some technologies are such that it may be better if they not be advanced further, due to the potential for abuse. I've a feeling that over the long term, human civilization tends towards dystopia, unless something pushes the reset button now and then.

But I think you know that I'm not too impressed with the whole Muh Climate Change. The world has been both warmer and colder than now, within historical time.
The real danger is from all the strange chemicals that modern industry is dumping into the water supply. The biosphere can deal with a bit more CO2 - it's plastic that is bad for it.
 
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