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Thread: Fusion and chaos

  1. #1 Fusion and chaos 
    Forum Junior Cuete's Avatar
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    By introducing a little static into the magnetic fields that contain the hot, electrically charged atoms of a fusion reaction, researchers have shown that they can prevent the lightning-like discharges that can damage the reactor. The results, which appear online in Nature Physics1, could help the US$5.5 billion International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) achieve its goal of generating net energy from fusion.
    Ref. news @ nature.com (22 May 2006)


    It says they can't quite explain it with numbers yet, but it works pretty well. This induced static produces small disturbances in the magnetic field, that lets plasma leak out relieving pressure out of the system, preventing violent bursts.

    And they're including it in ITER's (ITER: http://www.iter.org/) design. I wonder if it's worth the chance of including chaotic variables in such an expensive project... if we can't fully understand it yet.


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    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    I would not be too worried, fusion is very very different from fission. It is not so easy to produce a lot more energy than intended from fusion as it is from fission. Consider the following....

    To get a fission reaction or even a fission based nuclear explosion all you really need to do is push enough Uranium 235 together and it will happen. It may not produce an explosion to rival implosive based nuclear devices but it will work. They even believe that there was a naturally formed nuclear reactor in Africa at one time. Fission is a chain reaction so by its very nature it tends to spiral out of control. A fission reactor must be constantly monitored and control rods of neutron absorbing materials need to be contantly adjusted to keep the reaction under control.

    Fusion however is a different matter. You have to put a lot of energy in to both get the reaction going AND especially to keep it going. Fusion does not operate like a chain reaction at all, so its natural tendency is not to spiral out of control but simply to go out. Any explosion in a fusion reactor is not likely to do more than damage valuable equipment. Nor will it produce dangerous radioactive materials to contaminate the environment like fission does.

    As for whether it is worth the potential loss of equipment, well the fact is that we cannot progress with out trying things out. Nothing ventured nothing gained. The potential gain is certainly enormous.


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