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On the verge of a fusion breakthrough? (14 Sep, 2018)

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:56 am
by aardvark_admin
This column is archived at: https://aardvark.co.nz/daily/2018/0914.shtml

Wow... is this a dejavu moment or what?

Could practical fusion generators be just a decade or so away?

Is the whole concept of magnetic containment simply "too hard" due to the fact that it is intrinisically negatively stable with a myriad of feedback paths that make it impossible to achieve?

Might we not be better modelling our fusion reactors on nature's own model (ie: a sphere with gravitational containment) which has shown itself to be incredibly stable over billions of years of operation?

Oh, hang on, why not just use the damned fusion reactor so conveniently provided for our use right there smack dab in the middle of the solar system?

Re: On the verge of a fusion breakthrough? (14 Sep, 2018)

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 11:12 am
by hagfish
Here's an 'explain like I'm five' explanation of the discovery. I'm not sure how accurate it is, but it was interesting and approachable, and Reddit liked it.

Re: On the verge of a fusion breakthrough? (14 Sep, 2018)

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 11:29 am
by Hiro Protagonist
To maintain a balance, the bottom pivot must be constantly shifted, to place it directly under the centre of mass, every time that centre of mass changes.

That problem was solved by the Germans in the 1940's
Clearly, a much better solution to the issue of plasma confinement would be to devise a system which has positive stability... a system where the plasma just wants to remain confined.
What would that look like?
Well it would probably look a lot like the sun -- a sphere, where the force of gravity provided the containment and where the inverse-square nature of that force provided the stabilising factor to control the plasma's position.

Workable, if you can live with the rather inconveniently explosive failure mode when you run low on fuel...

Of course the difficulty of magnetic confinement goes away if you don't need long-term confinement. I don't think we should give up on inertial confinement just yet.

Why do all this when nature has provided a ready-built fusion reactor just 85 million miles away?

Not exactly portable though is it? While we still have enormous scope for harnessing solar energy on earth, fusion will be necessary if we ever want to seriously explore the solar system. On Mars you're looking at 44% of the solar power available on earth. If you want to go further out, a BYO fusion reactor becomes essential.

Re: On the verge of a fusion breakthrough? (14 Sep, 2018)

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:13 pm
by paulw
If you call it nuclear fusion reactor it won't fly with the greenies and anti nuke brigade. It will get show down fast than a single use plastic bag. You'll have to call it something like quantum fusion reactor.

Re: On the verge of a fusion breakthrough? (14 Sep, 2018)

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 4:47 pm
by phill
err im both
and i have no problem with it
just like all the other greenie and or anti nuke people i know
we would mostly support molten salt if given the facts as well

but because neither of those supported the gross profits of the take all give nothing military industrial complex the research was shelved before it had a chance
.. it might be an environmental disaster in the future .. but who cares about that .. its way cheaper we can make a lot more profit fast and hey it makes one hell of a bomb

ps
we need to drop a lot more 1080

Re: On the verge of a fusion breakthrough? (14 Sep, 2018)

PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2018 8:31 am
by roygbiv
Perhaps the research and experimenting with fusion reactors will conclude that the most stable reactor will use the economies of scale and employ its own magnetic field to stabilise the reactions ie. just like the sun. Perhaps fusion reaction will always be 10 years away as it has been since the dawn of fission some 70 years ago. As the world moves on we realise how much more we can get from the sun by the increasingly more efficient generation of solar power.

I believe that this really ticks all the boxes especially when it comes to the greenies but we must continue developing the various types of power generation, wind, tidal, hydro etc. Presently, power is generated in one place and transported to the consumer by line companies which is, especially in NZ a large component of the cost of power. But, with solar and wind power energy production will turn the model upside down where we could generate power at home and have enough to power our EVs. Now put a time frame on that - say 10 years ? that would really be worth looking forward to. Will fusion fit this new model, only if someone can invent Mr. Fusion but I guess that will be 10 years after fusion generation is achieved which is only 10 years away. ;)