Fusion's promise

Reflections on fusion history, current events, and predictions for the 'fusion powered future.
ab0032
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Re: Fusion's promise

Post by ab0032 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:42 pm

I agree to 99% of what you say, yet I am extremely optimistic about the outcome.

There is one very fundamental flaw in your thinking, that is so prevalent that most people just agree, without questioning it.

We are not energy starved, we have abundant energy, more than we could ever use.
And I dont mean the fracking and shale gas rush that is now approaching and will give us another round of cheap and abundant fossil fuels. I can do the math, we have an exponential growth in energy consumption and no matter how much oil there is, it will run out sooner than most people believe, because it is finite. So this next oil and gas rush may last a century, but who cares.

What we have, and what so many people ignore is fission. We know we have supplies for 1 billion years of uranium at a price of less than 250$ a pound. And that is using only 0.7% of the uranium. And we know how to breed natural uranium and get 100 times more energy from it. So we have a supply of 100 billion years of energy at todays consumption rate, enough to fly to other planets and get more uranium if we really had to and didnt find out how to do fusion by then.

And if that is not enough, we still have thorium, which is much more abundant than uranium, we have stockpiles of the stuff lying around unused, because it is a side product from making neodynium magnets and mining rare earths, which are not really rare despite their name.

So what I really dont get, is why people take: "Energy is running out" as an axiom, when it is obviously and blatantly wrong.

There is absolutely no reason to save energy or be worried. Just look at places like India, China and Brasil, who are all going into nuclear energy, developing thorium reactors and planning their energy independence with nuclear. China has a massive program, just check it out, they say, if they dont have enough petrol or gas, they will make it in nuclear power plants, and they will.

Humanity grew up in the cradle called earth, and it is time we got up and leave and began to become a space faring species.

There are limits, true, like physics, and how great we can dream, but thats it. We may not have fusion powered spacecraft that can go almost to the speed of light yet, but we will one day, and I expect it to be sooner than most think. Maybe we will build matter/antimatter drives first and produce antimatter here on earth with nuclear power, to make spacecraft lighter and faster.

So I expect we will have plasma drives that can cut down times for trips to mars and a moon of jupiter drastically during my lifetime, we will have flying cars and say, where we are going we dont need roads. A trip to mars could be cut down to 3 weeks and a trip to a jupiter moon to 80 days. I will go on a cruise past the moon to mars and jupiter before I die.

How great can you dream? What are the limits to your creativity?

ab0032
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Re: Fusion's promise

Post by ab0032 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:17 pm

I really fell like puking when I read such stuff. All this negativity. Just entertaining the idea of letting billions of people die is so disgusting.

Take a step back and look at what is happening and why, whose ideology is behind this.

The idea that a human being is like a cockroach polluting its environment and using resources goes back to Malthus. Too many people too little land to feed them, was the grave mistake he put forward.

But is this really true? No not at all, people create resources. Bauxite was just useless rocks, before we turned it into aluminum, iron ore was just dirt without a use, before we did something with it. People do have brains, even if half the population has an IQ below 100. The known resources are not declining but increasing as we go and people are so ingenious as to invent ways of doing so much more with less all the time. That's what happens when you have freedom, free markets and people, people doing things nobody has imagined before. Cars, telephones, airplanes, radio, nuclear power, tv, computers, internet, satellites, rockets, genetics and so on and that was only the last century.

We have the means to turn the whole of the Sahara into a green oasis with nuclear power and desalinated sea water, this planet can easily hold 50 or 100 billion people. We know how and we could. And we will.

But what do people do instead? We do such stupid things as turn food into fuel, we buy plant oil to make diesel, we take corn and make ethanol, because we are living in a world filled with idiots who have eaten the antihumanist shit criminal environmentalist like the club of rome and greenpeace want us to believe, so they gain more power and influence. Didnt the club of rome predict that oil would run out in the 1980s and 2 billion people would be dead by now? So why do people continue to do immoral and unethical things and take away the food that the poorest billion is in desperate need of? Why do we cut down rain forests to have huge palm oil monocultures to drive around in cars? Why do we take their land and buy away their food? Why do we have to have subsidies on ethanol to starve innocent and helpless children in the third world? What a sick ideology. The greens are killing millions by starvation today for fear of what might happen in the future. And because they are against letting us have all the energy we want and need from nuclear.

You also mention the trillions government is spending to produce bubbles. Yes, it is such a waste, I really cant stand that any more either, what happened to the american dream of freedom and the pursuit of happiness? Government is taking half of what we earn and wasting it. Or even more when you think of the debt they are producing. That is socialism, or statism or whatever you want to call it and it has never worked and it will never work. And it would be so easy, just lower the taxes, let the people keep a little more of what they have created and watch how jobs are created.

Why are we doing the same mistake over and over? The great depression was made worse by government intervention, it lasted longer because of government intervention and what do we do? We do the same again, let the government make things worse than they already where from the government created bubble. And what do people do? They vote for more handouts, more socialism, more fat government.

Tell me, where are the great things government created? The best thing of all is still the NASA and they are a great failure too. In the 60s they send us to the moon, but what now? Private enterprise has to do it, like Branson and SpaceShipOne, Burt Ruton, Paul Allen, Elon Musk, even this Vegas hotelier has put something into space. NASA has failed on the promise of space travel, just like every centrally planed undertaking always fails.

So please please, for the sake of the children starving in the third world, stop the environmentalist in their quest to destroy humans and please stop voting for socialism, so we can all be wealthier and lead a better life.

ab0032
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Re: Fusion's promise

Post by ab0032 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:37 pm

Yes, the realities of economics and return on investment or on energy invested are vital to any form of energy. That's what the solar and wind proponents love to ignore.

Cheap energy and wealth and longevity directly go hand in hand.

But as I said above, we dont need fusion for the foreseeable future, we already have abundant energy. It would be a nice to have, but it is not essential.

See also above my opinion on "two billion people too much", people are assets, not liabilities, even if only every millionth is an Einstein, or invents penicillin or discovers how genes work. More people means more great ideas, more great things created, and a better life for all of us.

But what are the 5 freight trains heading for us, you see coming? I only see statism and environmentalism as the great dangers of today.

Yes, we all want everybody to be happy and lead a better and healthier life, and we all want to preserve biodiversity. But all the greens are doing is destroy more wildlife faster. The only reason I can find why they are against nuclear power, is that they would not be needed, they would have to admit, that their thinking was based on a fundamental flaw, that it was they, that have caused so much suffering and destruction of nature for no rational reason.

And I am sure humanity will lead a better life, because the grip of socialist and greens may be becoming stronger in the USA and the EU, but globally they will not be able to hold us back from a freer and better life forever. People will start to see through their mean agenda and stop following death and suffering and starvation and poverty and choose life and freedom instead.

ab0032
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Re: Fusion's promise

Post by ab0032 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:43 pm

Dennis P Brown wrote:
> Richard, the key is who dies - if two billion third world people die, that would effect things very little - they use so little in energy/resources and are, for most area's highly dense in land area and hence, have little footprint on the land area; now if instead, two billion first worlders (is that even a word?) die, now we are talking saving the world. The bad news for the world, they control the nukes (that is, a small number of that group.)

True, but in fact nobody has to die, instead we could aid the third world by providing micro breeders like the Toshiba 4S to them and give them internet. Then - with energy and information - they will do the rest themselves, and we have a great market for new innovative products.

They all want medicine, clean water, heating, education, drive around in cars, fly places and see the world, air con, washing machines and all the rest, and they will have it. No way, we could stop them, even if we wanted, which I dont.

ab0032
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Re: Fusion's promise

Post by ab0032 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:53 pm

Richard Hull wrote:
> Energy, economics, world politics and population are hopelessly intertwined. It is usually tough to individualize them or isolate them from a bigger picture. I think fusion might slow down the inevitable. But it is more of a "kick the can down the road" approach. I hope we do have a fusion future. Regardless, the solution will occur because of us, in spite of us and to us.
>

Brighten up a little, just keep kicking and see where it will lead us. In the end the universe will end and the sun will go out in a few billion years, but who knows where we are by then.

A few billion years is a very long time for a joy ride, enough not only to colonize the planets around our stars in our galaxy, but even enough to travel to other galaxies on chemically power spaceships.

There are so many things to do, keep kicking. And we will get a grip on energy, economics and politics too, we just have to take responsibility and think for ourselves and not rechew those Marxian, Keynesian and Malthusian lies. I am sure we will get over those sooner or later.

Dan Tibbets
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Re: Fusion's promise

Post by Dan Tibbets » Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:35 pm

I don't know where you get your numbers. I have heard that fission of Uranium may last a few hundred years and thorium a few thousand. This assumes that this fission fuel replaces most of the fixed site fossil fuel consumption. In a similar vein, coal might last us (US) for several hundred years if it replaces gas and oil. New natural gas will ease this situation some as will wind and solar to a smaller degree. Actually, the US is in pretty good shape for several generations, though the cost will be greater. Europe, much of Asia, and Africa may be a different story.

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Richard Hull
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Re: Fusion's promise

Post by Richard Hull » Mon Feb 25, 2013 7:08 pm

In spite of the previous five sequential diatribes entered upon previous diatribes, like a belt-fed machine gun, dispensing hope and promise, we will all, in the end, be where events take us.

Current events don't look all that sweet.

Even with the horror of a massive and total thermo nuclear exchange and 95% of earth's population dead, we will survive as a species, that is for sure and for certain....That's as positive as I get......... If the horror occurs, will the survivors be any smarter or wiser? If wiser for the experience, how many generations will it take before we are fat, happy and dumbed down again.

Then there is that "Earth killer" asteroid at some future date which hits and it's only the cockroachs that do survive.

Just like the promise of power-ready fusion, we all must just sit tight and wait to see what gells.

My original post was to suggest that we all might think about the physics of fusion. Is there something we don't understand, something that has not been revealed, some avenue or approach that is not even thought of yet?

Is fusion an inate potential energy source at all, and if it is, does it just have a monsterous trigger pull nearly equaling the energy we seek to get out of it? Why haven't we even come close? These are fusion related issues worth consideration.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Chris Bradley
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Re: Fusion's promise

Post by Chris Bradley » Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:23 pm

Richard Hull wrote:
> Why haven't we even come close?
Of course we have come close! That is why fusion energy has been so tantalising! We know what fuel to use, and can manufacture it. We know what temperatures to make the reaction happen, and we can create such temperatures. We know the density needed to achieve a 'pay-back' reaction, and we can get that density. We know how stable a thermo-nuclear fusion reaction needs to be, and can achieve that.

We've even made exothermic fusion reactions, but we just don't know how to slow them down to control them for our own purposes!

We know how to do all the things we need to know ... except, it seems, how to do all the things we need to do all at once! That is why it is so tantalising.

And above all, we [mankind] *need* to figure out how to do it. Solar power and all those appealing 'renewables' may well do for a much smaller Earthly population, but we would put ourselves at the whim of our environment. The whole basis of human progress in the last +7000 years, and especially in the last 500 years, has been to get to the point where we control and manipulate the environment to *our* purposes, *at will*, and to no longer presume our successes or disasters are driven by loving and/or vengeful gods.

'Oil' will have made this possible for the first 1,000 years or so since our 'enlightenment', and nuclear (breeding) will do it for the first 10,000 years. After that, it's fusion or it's back to eeking out a mediaeval life at the whim of what the fields/forests/jungles/seas allow us to take, without unbalancing their naturally-bestowed equilibrium. Some long for such times, but that'd be the end of technologically civilised humans and once again we would come to live in fear of deities whose beneficence we will prey, sacrifice and do honour unto, in case they take away the sun/warmth/water/fertility/good-health/stable-geology, &c...

As far as fusion goes, the 'null hypothesis' of any other scientific experiment would have been presumed proven after 60 years of unsuccessful experimentation [that is; that it is not possible to contain a thermonuclear fusion plasma], but as there is no further alternative within our current understanding of physics to get energy from somewhere new, then the quest will be continued indefinitely, until we do.

......And so it should be. The funding for fusion research is truly pitiful when one considers its huge importance when compared with so many other things involving vast amounts of money we see on this Earth. e.g. 'Quantitative easing' (printing money) of trillions of dollars to prop up an imagined crisis from numbers on a page, rather than spending on 'real stuff', like fusion research.

Alex deeply bemoans why we don't see that things could simply be done better, then the problems we have could be avoided. Why indeed? "Politics, dear boy." It is simply politics. Humans are political creatures. Humans are no more adapted by evolution to be able to fly as they are to be able to agree to collectively do the best/right thing. ... if humans were collectively capable of doing anything near to what you ask, Alex, then why do people still war with each other? If folks can't figure out there's no benefit killing each other for no darned reason, then what hope is there to get them to collectively agree to support advanced technology projects to the benefit of all mankind?!?!?

Whilst the oil flows from the ground and is ready for pumping into some peoples' cars at prices cheaper than water in bottles collected from a mountain spring, and whilst the electrons flow into their houses and gas in our pipes at trivial costs, and whilst those without these things are mostly oblivious to even the very existence of such things, then what hope is there for a change? When those flows become so expensive that they all but stop, then it may be too late for a critical-mass of a well-educated workforce with an industrial infrastructure behind them to do what's needed. Who can say? But it ain't looking good at the moment!

ab0032
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Re: Fusion's promise

Post by ab0032 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:23 pm

Dan DT wrote:
> I don't know where you get your numbers. I have heard that fission of Uranium may last a few hundred years and thorium a few thousand. This assumes that this fission fuel replaces most of the fixed site fossil fuel consumption. In a similar vein, coal might last us (US) for several hundred years if it replaces gas and oil. New natural gas will ease this situation some as will wind and solar to a smaller degree. Actually, the US is in pretty good shape for several generations, though the cost will be greater. Europe, much of Asia, and Africa may be a different story.
>

I dont care if coal or gas last another few hundred years or not, and if you do the math, you will quickly see they wont. But what is interesting is that new lies from greenpeace can spread around the globe and even cover up things that have been known for a long time.

It is urban legend that uranium will last for as long as we can imagine and this is known for decades now.

You can find estimates on wikipedia, here is a quote:
"An additional 4.6 billion tonnes of uranium are estimated to be in sea water (Japanese scientists in the 1980s showed that extraction of uranium from sea water using ion exchangers was technically feasible).[57][58] There have been experiments to extract uranium from sea water,[59] but the yield has been low due to the carbonate present in the water. In 2012, ORNL researchers announced the successful development of a new absorbent material dubbed HiCap, which vastly outperforms previous best adsorbents, which perform surface retention of solid or gas molecules, atoms or ions. "We have shown that our adsorbents can extract five to seven times more uranium at uptake rates seven times faster than the world's best adsorbents," said Chris Janke, one of the inventors and a member of ORNL's Materials Science and Technology Division. HiCap also effectively removes toxic metals from water, according to results verified by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.[60][61]

Or you can read it here: http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/index.html

The nice thing about ocean water is that anybody can do the math and verify the truth of the statement.

As Mark Twain has said, "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." and that is what those criminal anti-humanist environmentalist make use of. Anybody who does a tiny bit of research can find the truth, but they are evil seducers who dont care about the consequences of their actions. It is no accident that founders of Greenpeace have turned against greenpeace and for example the whole earth catalog publisher Stewart Brandt is massivly pro nuclear now. He has enough character to admit he made a mistake, but others cling to their power and abuse it knowingly.

ab0032
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Re: Fusion's promise

Post by ab0032 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:05 pm

We are pretty close to fusion and we will have it in time, when we need it or long before that.

Also the famous meteorite hitting earth: I sure hope that we will be able to do something about it, we are already thinking and researching what can be done and how, and the skies are being searched permanently for large objects heading our way. And I sure hope humanity has a few more planets, before the big one hits. Diversify risks, its pretty dangerous to put all your eggs in one basket when it is about life and death.

And I want to say some things about solar PV, because it keeps popping up here in this thread.
Globally solar is not even 0.1% of all energy, even in Germany where a new record of 30GW peak installed was celebrated recently, this does not even replace one single nuclear power plant. The energy produced at a huge cost to society (bill currently at 400 billion €, estimates for necessary grid expansions needed for wind and solar are at 1.000 billion or you can also say 1 trillion €, which is about 1.3 T$ are currently circulating in the press.)

So with that kind of a bill you would expect something for it, right? You could build enough nuclear power plants to produce the German energy needs multiple times over. At that price, with nuclear the energy would be flowing out of our ears and we wouldnt know what to do other than heat out the open window in winter. But what do we get from solar? 0.3% of German primary energy, can you imagine that? Not even one percent. Yeah, but its all over in the news, all of Germany has windmills and PV left and right, I can see it, is what people are saying, but the facts are simple, wind and solar are extremely diluted forms of energy and it is hard to harvest and store. People cant grasp that all these 30GWp cant even replace 1 nuclear power plant, and they cannot grasp what it means that the energy content of nuclear is a million times that of a chemical fuel. They cannot understand that if a person gets all his energy for his whole life from nuclear, including all flights and everything, the waste would not even be an inch high in a coke can. Instead they prefer to blow out 7 billion tonnes of CO2 every year. That is a stretch of air from NY to the west coast 1km high and 1 km wide. Its completely absurd, nuclear is safer than even new years fire crackers, but they want nuclear banned which is the safest and cleanest known energy form.

But it's even worse than that, not only are Germans spending huge amounts of money for nothing, it was shown now, that CO2 and air pollution and fossil fuel consumption is up, BECAUSE of solar.
Big iron coal plants where getting cleaner and cleaner and efficiency was rising and would have produced less CO2 without solar. But with solar they are idling in standby at times burning fuel and not producing energy, their efficiency has dropped drastically do to the nonsteadyness of those silly alternatives. And now that the greens managed to turn off nuclear, Germany is running the oldest and filthiest lignite plants at full blast that had to be reactivated now.

And it still gets worse than that, what most people think is that solar PV prevents green house gases.
In Germany the return on energy comes after about 10 years, because Germany has about as much sun as Alaska. So Chinese burn a lot of coal to produce PV for Germany. So you could think that, oh well, they are nasty shit, with the cadmiumtellurid in them, but at least they prevent greenhouse gases and global warming, but that is not true, because nitrogentrifluoride is used and release in the production process and NF3 is not only toxic, it is a 17.200 times stronger greenhouse gas than CO2. Guess how long the PVs would have to run to make up for that?

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