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View Diary: Big Trouble In Arkansas w/Update (246 comments)

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  •  I have a couple of problems with that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim P, Eyesbright, Joieau

    The goal of the NIF is fusion power and the underlying assumption of the book is "Nuclear power now and fusion power within a generation is an absolute requirement."

    Despite scientists' failure to achieve ignition at the massive laser fusion facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, inertial fusion energy (IFE) warrants continued research, concluded a committee of experts convened by the National Research Council. A report released on 20 February said that ignition of a fuel pellet at LLNL's National Ignition Facility (NIF) is "the minimum technical accomplishment that would give confidence that commercial IFE may be feasible." The panel predicted that it will likely be "significantly more than a year before the discrepancies between theory and experiment are fully understood and needed adjustments are made to optimize the performance of the target fuel capsules containing deuterium and tritium."

    Although ignition wasn't achieved at NIF during the two-year-long experimental campaign that ended 30 September 2012, the committee said that doesn't lessen the long-term technical prospects for IFE. It noted that none of the expert reviews of the ignition campaign had ruled out ignition at NIF, and that it would be a modest step from ignition at NIF to ignition on the scale required for IFE.

    Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

    by Just Bob on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 06:14:03 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  It's 'A' goal (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      goodpractice, Eyesbright

      not 'the' goal, as the facility is primarily tasked (and funded) for bomb research. Most of the experimental runs are dedicated towards this as well.

      Unofficially, I think the fusion energy mission was tacked on to sell the program to more people in government who might have balked at the stockpile stewardship mission, but that's just speculation. I think the energy goals have been dramatically oversold.

      To give a sense of scale, to achieve economic energy the targets, now priced in the several thousand dollars each, need to be less than 50 cents, and fired 15 times a second instead of one every few days.

      This means that when one target explodes, the laser beams have to track and shoot the next one before all the debris has cleared the reaction chamber.

      Magnetic fusion has lots of technical issues, but they are a cakewalk compared to some of the issues facing inertial fusion energy production.

      •  I'll concede "A" goal (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but there was fusion energy research at Livermore long before the NIF so it wasn't just tacked on. They had a high level of expertise in the field.

        Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

        by Just Bob on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 06:51:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Of course (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Just Bob, Eyesbright

          LLNL still has groups that are still involved in the magnetic fusion program, primarily spectroscopic diagnostics. Most of the large machines have been defunded and mothballed in the US but there is an active machine in San Diego, and one currently being upgraded in Princeton. There was a fairly significant facility at MIT that was just recently shut down because, once again, the domestic fusion budget was cut.

      •  What about Polywell fusion. From what I heard (0+ / 0-)

        it showed considerable promise, possibly even more than conventional Tokamak reactors.

        You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

        by Throw The Bums Out on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 07:16:01 PM PDT

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        •  Generally considered (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Just Bob, Eyesbright, patbahn, orlbucfan

          to be in the 'out there' category as in the physics just doesn't work out. Lots of supporters on the internet though.

          In most of these alternate schemes, the Polywell and electrostatic confinement fusion, the losses just are too great to maintain the proper power balance needed for fusion energy production. It's not a technical/materials problem, nor a lack of understanding of the physics, it's that the the basic physics just don't support energy production.

          Basically, in these devices, the accelerated tritium particles interact and fuse primarily with the background deuterium instead of the other accelerated particles. Thus, producing fusion in this way is no better than using an accelerator to fire tritium particles into a fixed target of deuterium. You can get fusion, just not net energy.

          •  Biggest problem in nuke energy is (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            disposal of waste. It still is regardless of what MIC, etc. propaganda states to the contrary.

            Some people make u want to change species! --ulookarmless, quoted w/his permission: RIP good man.

            by orlbucfan on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 06:33:48 AM PDT

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            •  That's a problem (0+ / 0-)

              with fission, not fusion. Fusion waste is trivial to deal with. Additionally, fusion can help deal with fission waste:


              You have to figure out something to do with the fission waste that already exists. For all the criticism and concern, I see very little in the way of suggestions or solutions.

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