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Thread: Fusion Reactors - Much effort, but little progress toward a functional energy source.

  1. #1 Fusion Reactors - Much effort, but little progress toward a functional energy source. 
    Forum Masters Degree Double Helix's Avatar
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    Dec 2020
    The prospect of fusion reactors providing enormous amounts of clean energy has been around for decades (1). A great deal of time and fortune has been spent on their construction and development, but still nothing to commercialize.

    The Chinese recently claimed to have set a new world record for a sustained plasma reaction, lasting for over 100 seconds (2). The previous record was South Korea, at about 20 seconds (3).

    Now, Jeff Bezos of Amazon is investing in a new reactor in the U.K. that is expected to become operational in 2025, but not sufficient for energy distribution (4). It is only an experimental reactor like all the others. One suspects Bezos is doing this as he will need to source a lot more power if he is to conquer the world with Amazon.

    With all the efforts, no real progress, other than a glimmer of fusion reactions, seems to have been made.

    Are we getting even close, or are all these efforts only teasing us for something that is beyond our abilities to construct and operate?





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  3. #2  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Helix View Post
    Are we getting even close, or are all these efforts only teasing us for something that is beyond our abilities to construct and operate?
    I'm convinced (from what I've read about the technology) that all types of magnetic confinement, including tokamaks and stellarators will never be commercially successful. Not in the nearest hundreds of years, at least. They are going to be too expensive to compete with other energy sources. Read about the price of ITER. Yet they aren't too efficient in power input/output ratio. ITER is predicted to have 1:10 ratio in the best case (what is unlikely for now). But "10" is a thermal, not electric energy output. Further conversion to electric power will reduce the initial ratio from 1:10 to 1:3. Add to this huge maintenance costs and induced radiation problem which will demand constant repair and replacement of the superexpensive components damaged by neutron bombardment. And another problem of disposal of those contaminated components. Therefore, if commercially viable fusion will be created in the nearest hundreds of years, it could be only inertial confinement fusion. I think such technologies as HiPER and Dense Plasma Focus are closest to the target now. Potentially, they are much cheaper then tokamaks or stellarators.
    HiPER - Wikipedia
    Dense plasma focus - Wikipedia
    In the very distant future some kind of "cold" fusion may become possible. If humanity will ever master perfectly quantum tunneling, they could make fusion happen through quantum tunneling mostly, without need for extreme pressures and temperatures.
    Shock ignition, an alternative concept for igniting thermonuclear fuel, is explored as a new approach to high gain, inertial confinement fusion targets for the National Ignition Facility (NIF). Results indicate thermonuclear yields of approximately 120-250 MJ may be possible with laser drive energies of 1-1.6 MJ, while gains of approximately 50 may still be achievable at only approximately 0.2 MJ drive energy. The scaling of NIF energy gain with laser energy is found to be G approximately 126E (MJ);{0.510}. This offers the potential for high-gain targets that may lead to smaller, more economic fusion power reactors and a cheaper fusion energy development path.
    (PDF) Shock Ignition: A New Approach to High Gain Inertial Confinement Fusion on the National Ignition Facility (

    Last edited by Stanley514; June 28th, 2021 at 07:33 AM.
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