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Thread: Fusion Reactor Achieves Burning Plasma

  1. #1 Fusion Reactor Achieves Burning Plasma 
    Forum Masters Degree Double Helix's Avatar
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    It appears that "burning plasma", the self-sustained fusion in a reactor has been achieved for the first time, at least for a very brief moment (1).

    This is considered a major breakthrough as fusion reactors are expected to provide enormous amounts of clean energy from a little bit of matter. The next step is "ignition", where the fuel burns on its own, producing more energy than required to start it and keep it going.

    The results, obtained from the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, is described in greater detail in Nature (2).

    While this is great news for research on fusion reactors, their introduction into energy production is many years away. Probably should have put a lot more effort into research, and they might already be helping to reduce emissions.

    Nevertheless, it stands as a major achievement in physics, and progress towards functional fusion reactors.



    "Hot stuff: Lab hits milestone on long road to fusion power"

    1. https://apnews.com/article/science-f...e384dc80b8dd07


    "Burning plasma achieved in inertial fusion"

    2. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04281-w


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  3. #2  
    exchemist
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Helix View Post
    It appears that "burning plasma", the self-sustained fusion in a reactor has been achieved for the first time, at least for a very brief moment (1).

    This is considered a major breakthrough as fusion reactors are expected to provide enormous amounts of clean energy from a little bit of matter. The next step is "ignition", where the fuel burns on its own, producing more energy than required to start it and keep it going.

    The results, obtained from the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, is described in greater detail in Nature (2).

    While this is great news for research on fusion reactors, their introduction into energy production is many years away. Probably should have put a lot more effort into research, and they might already be helping to reduce emissions.

    Nevertheless, it stands as a major achievement in physics, and progress towards functional fusion reactors.



    "Hot stuff: Lab hits milestone on long road to fusion power"

    1. https://apnews.com/article/science-f...e384dc80b8dd07


    "Burning plasma achieved in inertial fusion"

    2. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04281-w
    No it's not for the first time. Tokamaks have done this for a while. The issue is for long it can be sustained. This news is a step forward in the rival, inertial confinement technology.

    Neither technology is anywhere close to generating any power, not even enough to run the machine itself. Nobody has yet even proved the technology needed to capture power from the fusion reaction. The first machine to do that is planned to be the successor to ITER (!).

    All this about getting closer to commercial power is hype, to keep the funding up. It will take decades more. At least.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Masters Degree Double Helix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post

    No it's not for the first time. Tokamaks have done this for a while. The issue is for long it can be sustained. This news is a step forward in the rival, inertial confinement technology.

    Neither technology is anywhere close to generating any power, not even enough to run the machine itself. Nobody has yet even proved the technology needed to capture power from the fusion reaction. The first machine to do that is planned to be the successor to ITER (!).

    All this about getting closer to commercial power is hype, to keep the funding up. It will take decades more. At least.
    Thanks for the clarification.

    The results are for inertial confinement on a lab scale. That was the first time, which was not clear to me from the articles.

    But the Nature article also suggested another important first:

    "Additionally, we describe a subset of experiments that appear to have crossed the static self-heating boundary, where fusion heating surpasses the energy losses from radiation and conduction. These results provide an opportunity to study α-particle-dominated plasmas and burning-plasma physics in the laboratory."

    end quote

    It appeared that these studies represented a "breakthrough" in fusion reactors, getting closer to ignition. It seems that the "new" results are the lab scale nature of the accomplishment, which may in itself be valuable as it should allow more detailed analysis of the conditions which lead to ignition.
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  5. #4  
    exchemist
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Helix View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post

    No it's not for the first time. Tokamaks have done this for a while. The issue is for long it can be sustained. This news is a step forward in the rival, inertial confinement technology.

    Neither technology is anywhere close to generating any power, not even enough to run the machine itself. Nobody has yet even proved the technology needed to capture power from the fusion reaction. The first machine to do that is planned to be the successor to ITER (!).

    All this about getting closer to commercial power is hype, to keep the funding up. It will take decades more. At least.
    Thanks for the clarification.

    The results are for inertial confinement on a lab scale. That was the first time, which was not clear to me from the articles.

    But the Nature article also suggested another important first:

    "Additionally, we describe a subset of experiments that appear to have crossed the static self-heating boundary, where fusion heating surpasses the energy losses from radiation and conduction. These results provide an opportunity to study α-particle-dominated plasmas and burning-plasma physics in the laboratory."

    end quote

    It appeared that these studies represented a "breakthrough" in fusion reactors, getting closer to ignition. It seems that the "new" results are the lab scale nature of the accomplishment, which may in itself be valuable as it should allow more detailed analysis of the conditions which lead to ignition.
    Yes, fair enough. But your point serves to re-emphasise how far away we still are, i.e. nobody has even got to ignition yet.
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