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Author Topic:   Fusion: Hope For The Future?
Phat
Member
Posts: 17111
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.0


Message 1 of 9 (904570)
01-02-2023 8:01 AM


Who Pays The Bill?
Recently, in another group I am in, the following topic was shared among us:
In a breakthrough experiment, nuclear fusion finally makes more energy than it uses
So I began 'a-googling to see what information was out there concerning this achievement.
As many of you know, I am concerned with our (humanities) collective social and financial future. An eventual breakthrough leading to cheap and abundant energy could be a game-changer. The main issue, of course, would be the cost. Who pays the electric bill and how much is it?

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.” - Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is Within You (1894).
When both religious and non-religious people reach the same conclusions then you know religion isn't the reason.--Percy
Democrats should not be the only party. Respect the two-party system. -Phat, in December 2022
We see Monsters where Science shows us Windmills.~Phat, remixed

Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by Phat, posted 01-02-2023 8:10 AM Phat has not replied
 Message 3 by Tangle, posted 01-02-2023 8:18 AM Phat has seen this message but not replied
 Message 4 by ringo, posted 01-02-2023 12:32 PM Phat has not replied
 Message 5 by Diomedes, posted 01-03-2023 12:26 PM Phat has not replied
 Message 6 by Taq, posted 01-03-2023 6:30 PM Phat has not replied
 Message 8 by AZPaul3, posted 01-03-2023 8:38 PM Phat has not replied

  
Phat
Member
Posts: 17111
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.0


Message 2 of 9 (904571)
01-02-2023 8:10 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
01-02-2023 8:01 AM


Re: Who Pays The Bill?
In a related issue, which global empire gets to have the rights to such technology initially? As Ray Dalio reminds us, the United States is on a slow decline and China is on a slow accent. Our only advantage is our freedom, but our political squabbling complicates and hinders our progress. Of course, the CCP(Chinese Communist Party) complicates and hinders theirs as well. The global humanists will simply say that such an invention belongs to *all* of us but the reality on this planet is and has been about power and control rather than pious platitudes about the brotherhood of man.
Personally, I would love to see the Western Capitalists get ahold of the technology first and leave the governments out of it. But that argument is for another topic!

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.” - Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is Within You (1894).
When both religious and non-religious people reach the same conclusions then you know religion isn't the reason.--Percy
Democrats should not be the only party. Respect the two-party system. -Phat, in December 2022
We see Monsters where Science shows us Windmills.~Phat, remixed

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Phat, posted 01-02-2023 8:01 AM Phat has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by Taq, posted 01-03-2023 6:48 PM Phat has not replied

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 8898
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 3.5


(5)
Message 3 of 9 (904573)
01-02-2023 8:18 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
01-02-2023 8:01 AM


Re: Who Pays The Bill?
It's no more than a lab experiment at the moment and the amount of extra energy produced is minute. We're a generation at least away from full scale production.
I remember reading the headline of my dad's newspaper when I was a kid that read "Free Electricity" after the first nuclear generators were announced. Strangely, that didn't happen.
Brilliant achievement though.

Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien. I am Mancunian. I am Brum. I am London. Olen Suomi Soy Barcelona. I am Ukraine.

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Phat, posted 01-02-2023 8:01 AM Phat has seen this message but not replied

  
ringo
Member
Posts: 20915
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 4 of 9 (904603)
01-02-2023 12:32 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
01-02-2023 8:01 AM


Re: Who Pays The Bill?
Phat writes:
An eventual breakthrough leading to cheap and abundant energy could be a game-changer.
We should drop the pie-in-the-sky idea of "cheap and abundant energy" and try for something that doesn't kill us.

Come all of you cowboys all over this land,
I'll teach you the law of the Ranger's Command:
To hold a six shooter, and never to run
As long as there's bullets in both of your guns.
-- Woody Guthrie

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Phat, posted 01-02-2023 8:01 AM Phat has not replied

  
Diomedes
Member
Posts: 980
From: Central Florida, USA
Joined: 09-13-2013


Message 5 of 9 (904629)
01-03-2023 12:26 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
01-02-2023 8:01 AM


Re: Who Pays The Bill?
When I studied electrical engineering back in the 90s, I remember the discussion that we had in the power systems course in third year. The professor jokingly mentioned that fusion always seems to be '5-10 years away'. And that range just keeps moving.
The point being we are still quite a ways off from any sustainable power generation from fusion power. And despite the articles touting the recent experiment, it really is just that: an experiment that happened to reach a particular milestone, which was break even fusion. Not to disparage the achievement. But media pundits often go off on tangents or exaggerate the situation as a means to garner views to their articles. And this has a tendency to happen anytime some fusion milestone occurs.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Phat, posted 01-02-2023 8:01 AM Phat has not replied

  
Taq
Member
Posts: 9323
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.4


(1)
Message 6 of 9 (904638)
01-03-2023 6:30 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
01-02-2023 8:01 AM


Re: Who Pays The Bill?
Phat writes:
An eventual breakthrough leading to cheap and abundant energy could be a game-changer.
As the old saying goes, fusion is the energy source of the future, and always will be.
The experiment in question had ~2 megajoules of laser light in and ~3 megajoules of fusion energy out. That's a yield of about 300 watts, or enough to run your computer for an hour or 2.
Of course, there is a huge BUT . . .
While they got more fusion energy out than laser light in, what they didn't say as loudly is that it took 300 megajoules of electricity to make the 2 megajoules of laser light. So their actual total yield was just 1%. Not as exciting.
The other less major BUTS are that they used tritium, which is really expensive and hard to come by, and the fuel pellet takes a lot of work to get to the right shape (almost perfectly spherical). As it sits right now, this is not a process that can be repeated 10's or even 100's times a second, more like twice a day.
Even if they arrived at a high enough energy output, it is highly doubtful that it will be affordable for decades after that. Of course, if they don't try then we will never have affordable fusion power, so I commend them for slogging away at it.
In the short to medium-long term, fission is the fuel source we should be pursuing, IMHO.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Phat, posted 01-02-2023 8:01 AM Phat has not replied

  
Taq
Member
Posts: 9323
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.4


Message 7 of 9 (904639)
01-03-2023 6:48 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by Phat
01-02-2023 8:10 AM


Re: Who Pays The Bill?
Phat writes:
As Ray Dalio reminds us, the United States is on a slow decline and China is on a slow accent. Our only advantage is our freedom, but our political squabbling complicates and hinders our progress. Of course, the CCP(Chinese Communist Party) complicates and hinders theirs as well.
quote:
As signatories to the ITER Agreement, the ITER Members China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States will share in the cost of project construction, operation and decommissioning, and also share in the experimental results and any intellectual property generated by the project.
ITER Members
ITER is the biggest fusion project going right now. China has some of their own fusion projects that have had some good results, but I don't expect them to leapfrog ahead of everyone else, and even if they do I don't expect them to hoard the technology. China would absolutely love to be the center of the fusion world if that happens.
Personally, I would love to see the Western Capitalists get ahold of the technology first and leave the governments out of it.
It's highly doubtful if any capitalist would have the capital to get fusion power off the ground. Even if they did have the capital, I doubt they would want to spend 100's of billions in initial investment without any guarantee of return for decades. This type of infrastructure is what governments were made for, for better or worse.
Besides, we have already seen what it looks like when capitalists are in control of the electrical grid in a free market. It's pretty bad. They jack up prices whenever they want. California tried it and it was horrible. Texas has a hybrid system if I understand it correctly, and you say people with $10,000 electrical bills during the Texas freeze last winter. Free markets don't work when there isn't a healthy balance between supply and demand. When the producer has a product people can literally not live without then free capitalism doesn't work.

This message is a reply to:
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AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 7508
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 3.3


(3)
Message 8 of 9 (904640)
01-03-2023 8:38 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
01-02-2023 8:01 AM


Re: Who Pays The Bill?
Achieving fusion ignition is a well fought over (scientifically) accomplishment. Congrats to the National Ignition Lab.
The story, however, is far over hyped. [shocked look]
First, this ignition lab device was not built as a power station but to make controlled fusion explosions for bomb research.
The story’s hype, though, is in the math. There is something called the Q value for gauging progress in fusion research. Q is the ratio of energy output over energy input. For the last couple generations world labs have slowly climbed from Q = 0 to this latest announcement of Q = 1.5+. This is just a bit above the break-even point where the amount of energy produced would equal the amount put in. Here, the energy out from the fusion system exceeded, for the first time, the amount of energy they were pumping in: 2.05 megajoules (MJ) of laser energy in, 3.15 MJ of fusion energy out. That fusion flame wasn’t much, lasting a mere split second, but it was the first flame with everything else up to this being sparks.
But that Q value is misleading. There are 2 of them.
The one everyone is so hyped about is Qp: Q(plasma). That has to do with the energy delivered into the target, not the total energy required to generate and deliver that amount of laser power.
The other measure is Qt: Q(total). That is the whole energy budget for this one shot (powering the lasers, splitters, tracking assemblies, plus Qp, etc.)
On this project, for this device to produce more total power than consumed, they need to generate at Qt = 100+. They are barely at Q = 0.01. But, again, this ignition lab device was not built as a power station but to make controlled fusion explosions for bomb research.
To be commercially viable, so the fusion buzz goes on the internet, Qt of any fusion device (tokamak, stellarator, etc) needs to be at 1000++ and sustainable for years.
We are not even there yet. Just like in every generation since they started, viable fusion energy for public use is still a generation away. And when we get there expect it to still be only a generation away.

Stop Tzar Vladimir the Condemned!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Phat, posted 01-02-2023 8:01 AM Phat has not replied

Replies to this message:
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Taq
Member
Posts: 9323
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.4


Message 9 of 9 (904647)
01-04-2023 10:57 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by AZPaul3
01-03-2023 8:38 PM


Re: Who Pays The Bill?
AZPaul3 writes:
To be commercially viable, so the fusion buzz goes on the internet, Qt of any fusion device (tokamak, stellarator, etc) needs to be at 1000++ and sustainable for years.
It's that controlled and sustained part that are the kickers. We already did the 1000++ Qt (Qp might be a better measure) in the 1950's and 60's with hydrogen bomb testing.

This message is a reply to:
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