A discussion on fusion future. - A 'gentle' primer.

Reflections on fusion history, current events, and predictions for the 'fusion powered future.
ab0032
Posts: 86
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 6:50 am
Real name: Alexander Biersack

Re: A discussion on fusion future. - A 'gentle' primer.

Post by ab0032 » Wed Dec 05, 2012 3:42 pm

Here is one such calculation for sea water in brief
http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/cohen.html

User avatar
Richard Hull
Moderator
Posts: 11530
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2001 1:44 pm
Real name: Richard Hull

Re: A discussion on fusion future. - A 'gentle' primer.

Post by Richard Hull » Wed Dec 05, 2012 4:03 pm

Lots o' pie in the sky assumptions related to fusion and fission fuels. Regardless of availability of fusion fuels, it would be nice to get just one fusion reactor working at an economically viable level on the easiest possible reaction, D-T, prior to dreaming about which fuel we are to use and where it is coming from. This cart is miles out in front of the poor, currently useless, horse that is touted to win many races.

Uranium from sea water is also a bit of a dream. There is far too much in far easier to extract forms and higher concentrations still in the ground.

Given that fusion is not even on a visible horizon and the current political failure to advance fission in the free world, Coal remains the number one cheapest energy resource for the foreseeable near future, no matter how many other sources we heap on the pile of oughta'-be energy sources. I'm very pro-fission, but it is a dead horse in this country.

Again, most of this blather will probably be moot given totally non-energy related stuff brewing on the horizon. I am not personally committed to this bad result, but the world seems to be.

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.

User avatar
Jim Kovalchick
Posts: 335
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 12:00 am
Real name:

Re: A discussion on fusion future. - A 'gentle' primer.

Post by Jim Kovalchick » Wed Dec 05, 2012 7:04 pm

Richard,
Fact check: nukes make cheaper power than coal. We passed coal at least fifteen years ago based on improved capacity factors and operating cost controls.

User avatar
Frank Sanns
Site Admin
Posts: 1616
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2002 6:26 pm
Real name: Frank Sanns
Location: Pittsburgh, PA USA

Re: A discussion on fusion future. - A 'gentle' primer.

Post by Frank Sanns » Wed Dec 05, 2012 7:18 pm

There have been three accidents out of just over 400 reactors worldwide. While the number of deaths from radiation is low, the amount of hardship by those involved is huge. Loss of properties, family members, pets, belongings, and entire lives are just gone. I have seen up and close what it looks like in Japan and the uncertainly with the food contamination that they are still battling. It is not pretty at all. While this is just the human factor which seems to be dismissed in many of these banters, let's look at the technology.

1. Nuclear is not foolproof. The odds are low but when things go wrong, they go very wrong and affect significant populations. There will be more accidents and it may be coming to a neighborhood near you.

2. More reactors means more highly radioactive waste. Even reprocessing, if implemented, does not eliminate ultra high level waste. It reduces the volume of the waste but all that is the most radioactive is still entirely present. It also by far increases the chance for nuclear proliferation.

3. More reactors means more quantities and opportunities for proliferation of fissile material. It also increases the number of potential targets for terrorists.

4. If left unchecked, energy will be consumed at a faster and faster pace even if there were a nuclear reactor in every person's backyard. It is not a solution. It is a symptom of a energy gluttonous society.

Frank Sanns

User avatar
Frank Sanns
Site Admin
Posts: 1616
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2002 6:26 pm
Real name: Frank Sanns
Location: Pittsburgh, PA USA

Re: A discussion on fusion future. - A 'gentle' primer.

Post by Frank Sanns » Wed Dec 05, 2012 7:34 pm

Math is not needed. History is.

The ancients knew how to manage their resources. There was water and sewage management in the first of the successful civilizations. There also was a large amount of utilization of wind for cooling and for doing mechanical work. Buildings were built to capitalize on daytime heating and held in dirt or stone structures for night time warmth. These are not survivalist tactics, they are prudent choices.

Building a house that has a significant number windows facing south can provide a significant portion of winter heat. Building under deciduous trees preserves this for the winter yet provide a cool canopy for shade in the summer. These are wise practices that were learned and utilized by even our fathers. Unfortunately it is being forgotten by the new "I want all I can get now" generation. These people did not unplug their transformer wall chargers for their smartphones as they did know any better and did not care. It was the smartphone manufacturers that, because of legislation and environmental groups, switched over to solid state switching power supplies that did not have the phantom load. Nobody had to give anything up and no trees were harmed in the process and no dangerous chemicals were needed. This is just a small example of what needs to be done for those that do not know any better.

FYI, I do not think it is "Green" for a couple to build a summer house that is enormous and put 30 kw of panels on the roof only to use it all. This is money being abused in the name of environment but it is not green. Not even close.

There are answers but they do not fit well into the box that the world it used to. Things need to be done with a diverse vision of the future and not with an unchecked "I want all I can get and I am entitled to get it" mentality.

Frank Sanns


Alexander Biersack wrote:
> Solar power first needs a large initial energy and resource investment. We dont have these resources now and it would be silly to do it. Solar collectors in deserts also pose a major challenge, with dust and storms.
>
> But the main point is that solar is such a diluted form of energy, that all deserts of the world would not suffice to supply a demand growing at 3% by 2070 or 2080. So solar is just a short bridge to nowhere.
>
> Anyone could do the math on the back of an envelop. It doesnt add up.

User avatar
Steven Sesselmann
Posts: 2111
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 1:50 am
Real name: Steven Sesselmann
Location: Sydney - Australia
Contact:

Re: A discussion on fusion future. - A 'gentle' primer.

Post by Steven Sesselmann » Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:53 pm

Alex,

The problem is very simple, the world energy consumption increases exponentially, so no amount of energy nuclear or otherwise will ever be enough, and your nuclear fission reactors will in the very near future do exactly what you predict, safely desalinate water and let the population increase without limits, until we face the next cliff.

What is our objective as humans?

Where do we want to be in 50, 100, 1000, 10,000, 100,000 or 1,000,000 years?

Is having one new microwave in the kitchen and one old one on the path progress or stagnation?

Steven
http://www.gammaspectacular.com - Gamma Spectrometry Systems
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Steven_Sesselmann - Various papers and patents on RG

User avatar
Carl Willis
Posts: 2841
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2001 11:33 pm
Real name: Carl Willis
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Contact:

Re: A discussion on fusion future. - A 'gentle' primer.

Post by Carl Willis » Wed Dec 05, 2012 11:24 pm

The end is nigh.

I don't mean the end of the world as we know it...or the end of cheap energy...or the end of the fusion dream...or the heat death of the universe. Just the slightly-less-calamitous end of this thread. It's one of the longest threads of the 2012 year. It has little to do with the technological hobby of fusion as practiced in our community, and is instead revealing itself to be a mighty Wurlitzer of personal opination.

There is nothing wrong with having such opinions, but the posting guidelines include the following:

Inflammatory and noisy subjects belong elsewhere. Science and energy policy, climate change, and institutional fusion programs are examples of subjects that may reasonably be touched on from time to time in on-topic discussions, but as topics in themselves, are more appropriately discussed elsewhere."

I don't feel the need to apportion blame or to close the thread, but just drop a very subtle hint that it is time to focus again on what matters.

-Carl
Carl Willis
http://carlwillis.wordpress.com/
TEL: +1-505-412-3277

ab0032
Posts: 86
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 6:50 am
Real name: Alexander Biersack

Re: A discussion on fusion future. - A 'gentle' primer.

Post by ab0032 » Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:09 am

Richard Hull wrote:
> Lots o' pie in the sky assumptions related to fusion and fission fuels. Regardless of availability of fusion fuels, it would be nice to get just one fusion reactor working at an economically viable level on the easiest possible reaction, D-T, prior to dreaming about which fuel we are to use and where it is coming from. This cart is miles out in front of the poor, currently useless, horse that is touted to win many races.
>
Richard, I completely agree that we should focus on getting a fusion reactor at an economically viable level. Most people tend to forget that it also has to be economically sound.

> Uranium from sea water is also a bit of a dream. There is far too much in far easier to extract forms and higher concentrations still in the ground.
>
Of course it is far easier to extract from rich mines and it will be done. It is only nice to know that if the going gets rough, there is enough for all foreseeable future. The calculations are only based on seawater, because then the numbers can not be disputed so easily. The calculations become simpler and anyone can follow them.

> Given that fusion is not even on a visible horizon and the current political failure to advance fission in the free world, Coal remains the number one cheapest energy resource for the foreseeable near future, no matter how many other sources we heap on the pile of oughta'-be energy sources. I'm very pro-fission, but it is a dead horse in this country.
>
Sadly true. But that does not mean things will not change, once the Koreans and the Chinese have shown how to do it. It is a pity that we will have to license it from them in the end instead of being in the business of supplying the whole world with safe and clean modern nuclear power plants and leaving the interesting research fields to China and India.

Alex

ab0032
Posts: 86
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 6:50 am
Real name: Alexander Biersack

Re: A discussion on fusion future. - A 'gentle' primer.

Post by ab0032 » Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:19 am

Carl Willis wrote:
> The end is nigh.
>
> I don't mean the end of the world as we know it...or the end of cheap energy...or the end of the fusion dream...or the heat death of the universe. Just the slightly-less-calamitous end of this thread</i>. It's one of the longest threads of the 2012 year. It has little to do with the technological hobby of fusion as practiced in our community, and is instead revealing itself to be a mighty Wurlitzer of personal opination.
>
I would find it sad if this thread was closed, as it is much more interesting to discuss these issues with more knowledgeable people than you would find anywhere else in a public community or on fb.

> There is nothing wrong with having such opinions, but the posting guidelines include the following:
>
> Inflammatory and noisy</b> subjects belong elsewhere. Science and energy policy, climate change, and institutional fusion programs are examples of subjects that may reasonably be touched on from time to time in on-topic discussions, but as topics in themselves, are more appropriately discussed elsewhere."</i>
>
As far as I can see no inflammatory stuff has come up, we are civilized people here and why shouldnt we discuss this in one thread?

> I don't feel the need to apportion blame or to close the thread, but just drop a very subtle hint that it is time to focus again on what matters.
>
> -Carl

I would greatly appreciate if we could continue a discussion to exchange arguments, I like to learn more about the downsides of nuclear fission and how serious they are, compared to the downsides of coal or PV or hydro. From all the facts I know so far, I am pro fission, but I am open to rational arguments and facts.

Alex

ab0032
Posts: 86
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 6:50 am
Real name: Alexander Biersack

Re: A discussion on fusion future. - A 'gentle' primer.

Post by ab0032 » Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:50 am

Steven Sesselmann wrote:
> The problem is very simple, the world energy consumption increases exponentially, so no amount of energy nuclear or otherwise will ever be enough, and your nuclear fission reactors will in the very near future do exactly what you predict, safely desalinate water and let the population increase without limits, until we face the next cliff.
>
Yes it is exponential and we have been on that path for over 150 years of 3% growth a year. I know what it means and I dont have a problem with it. It will eventually come down by itself when it is time, no need for any anti humanist malthusian intervention now.

If nuclear power will not supply enough in 500 years and fusion has not been developed by then, which I strongly doubt, people and markets will work things out then. But there is absolutely no reason to go into hysteric "we have to safe energy mode" while we have a known clean and safe energy source that will supply us 20 times over beyond the end of the sun.

Population growth is slowing down globally and we are heading for severe demographic problems in Europe, China and the US, because of a much too fast decline due general misconceptions.

This "next cliff" is a club of rome type of drama, why is there going to be a cliff? What is going to happen? Is it really going to be bad? According to the club of rome billions should have died in the 80s because of a cliff that never happened. But the idea of this "cliff" should be buried unless real new arguments for it surface.

The West, the US and Europe and Japan make up about 10% of the world population, we have a nice life and use about 80% of the worlds resources. The other 6 or soon over 7 billion people also want our lifestyle, clean water, education, doctors, internet, washing machines, heating, and so on. And there is no argument that they should have less, and anyways we will not be able to prevent it.
This will continue to drive energy consumption up at 3% or even more in the near future.

It is a known fact that urbanization and progress will bring things down. World poverty is declining not only in relative terms but also in absolute numbers. Globalization and free markets have brought the necessary progress.


> What is our objective as humans?
>
> Where do we want to be in 50, 100, 1000, 10,000, 100,000 or 1,000,000 years?
>
First of all I believe in personal freedom and I am not a prophet, but I believe we will get fusion going soon and we will turn into a space faring civilization very soon. More people means more good ideas, more progress, more resources produced. Things will work out just fine, 7 billion people or 50 or 100 is all fine with me, this planet it big enough and times will only get more interesting and better, as they always have in the past.

> Is having one new microwave in the kitchen and one old one on the path progress or stagnation?
>
The path to progress lies in more people. If there is one Einstein among one billion, one inventor of penicillin, one inventor of the transistor or what ever, imagine what a hot ride we are in for now with 7 billion people. It will be just great as progress also accelerates exponentially.

Alex

Post Reply