More nasty old practical issues for fusion

It may be difficult to separate "theory" from "application," but let''s see if this helps facilitate the discussion.
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Richard Hull
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More nasty old practical issues for fusion

Post by Richard Hull »

I am not against fusion energy saving the planet. I am against B.S.ing the public by yahoo startups that stand zero chance of working designed from the get go to be funded by the gullible investors who wouldn't know a neutron from a pion. Such startups may or may not be hucksters on the move to enrich themselves, but they all are doomed for the reasons noted in this video created by a former fusion scientist.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JurplDfPi3U

My advice to those well heeled enough to invest in fusion's future.....Invest in fish farming. For my part I will not even invest a moment of my time in musing over how power ready fusion will be done in the end. If ever.

The person in the film makes very specific note that fusors do fusion and points to, of all people, Taylor Wilson. Wonder what this wunderkind is doing now? At any rate, The voice does not berate the fusor just tells the truth. The fusor in any form will never do useful fusion or produce any real energy.

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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Dennis P Brown
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Re: More nasty old practical issues for fusion

Post by Dennis P Brown »

Richard, couldn't agree more and I'm from the inside of this business. I do see possible roads but none can be done soon (as within two decades) nor without making a current fission plant look inexpensive. And this is for a non-power plant, test bed only.
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Re: More nasty old practical issues for fusion

Post by Matt_Gibson »

Guess I’ll unhook my fusor from my breaker panel now…

I’d like to see more research towards small fission reactors that are designed to power the local areas/neighborhoods around them so that we can get away from long transmission lines/losses.

Partner up with local distribution utilities and have a real improvement. Only problem seems to be the public freaking out over anything radioactive.

-Matt
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Dennis P Brown
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Re: More nasty old practical issues for fusion

Post by Dennis P Brown »

Matt, here is a site for someone that is trying to achieve those aims you just mentioned:

https://www.elysiumindustries.com/

What's really special about this reactor design is that it needs no complex array of safety systems, redundant pumping/water coolant systems, zero operators (!), and can burn existing and extremely radioactive waste currently stored at existing nuclear sites*. Unfortunately, all current reactors are based on military designs (main customer) and doesn't lend itself well to smaller designs - unlike the Elysium approch. So, a carbon free electrical power source that burns existing waste fuel, and requires plants that will be extremely cheap to build compared to existing fission plants+, and with its operation being automatic - i.e. does not need constant adjustment like all current fission plants. Simply this design has nothing to object to but it has been ignored while insane fusion designs are attracting huge sums of money by foolish investors. Go figure.

I will say that the nuclear fission industry has been its own worst enemy and environmental/safety issues really hasn't been been the principle cause that killed its progress.

* Currently, we still have no method to store these hideously radioactive and extremely dangerous wastes long term. Thety are all sitting in waste storage pools at every reactor site - now that isn't exactly safe; however, if Elysium gets its way, that it is still not underground long term is a very good thing.

+ The Elysium design requires none of the vast number of safety or backup systems, nor numerous operating personnel so it will be both far cheaper to build and operate
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Re: More nasty old practical issues for fusion

Post by Matt_Gibson »

If I ever gain enough influence in my industry (which I plan to do) I will push very hard for these sorts of projects to become accepted and mainstream.

I really feel that nuclear is our current answer to where we go next, not Solar and wind. Those are nice to have just because our sun is offering up energy for “free”, but not to depend on (for now anyway).

-Matt
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Richard Hull
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Re: More nasty old practical issues for fusion

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Nuclear fission is the future for either part of the 24-7 base load or smaller portable community reactors. If you aren't paying attention, watch the rolling brownouts use natural gas and perhaps an occasional coal plant fire-up to escape blackouts. With EV's being rammed down our throats, wait until millions plug in loads to the grid that were never there!

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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Re: More nasty old practical issues for fusion

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EVs are a hot topic of mine as I’m Director of Engineering for a Coop Utility and spend a lot of my time designing/worrying about such things:

1-I’m a distribution Coop utility, so looking forward to all of the extra kWh sales especially if we can get in ahead of the curve. The PSC might put a damper on this though as they regulate our rates.

2-There’s no way in hell that we’ll be able to rework our distribution system to support a rapid switch over to EV. None of our distribution transformers/services are sized to account for even the “trickle” chargers that push 14kW. I suspect everyone would plug in overnight and charge…Run your AC while pulling 14kW all night is going to burn up the transformers that we have out there.

Even if we had the $$$ to swap/upgrade each and every distribution transformer, lines, substations, transmission, etc. our distributors can’t get the materials for us. I’m seeing 52week lead times in our run if the mill distribution transformers. Can’t imagine what this is going to go to if there’s a large move towards EV in a short window.

3-Our G&T doesn’t just keep gobs of reserve sitting around. They’ll need to plan/adjust for such a mass change in demand and kWh needs.

4-Who’s going to generate all of the electrons needed to charge the batteries? If everyone is charging overnight, Solar isn’t going to be of use…

-Matt
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Re: More nasty old practical issues for fusion

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What Matt is talking about relates to fusion and energy production. All our electrical energy is solar based in one way or another, even looking at fossil fuels (geologically stored fusion/solar).

The world rushes towards the total elimination of all carbon based energy sources. (locked down or stored fusion energy). Direct and instantaneous collection of fusion energy via solar absolutely demands battery storage if multi-megawatt night time charging is needed. The fusion based stirring of our atmosphere demands that either battery storage or constant nightly winds be present to carry the EV load after dark.

EV and the private, individual ownership of same by all who who currently own and operate fossil fuel vehicles would have to take place over a 30-40 year cycle if the grid stands even the slightest chance of accommodating a load it was never designed to handle. This is from a generational standpoint as well as Matt's well reasoned distribution standpoint.

Typically, Co-ops are those smaller electrical suppliers scattered all over the U.S. These, while mostly rural, are not all strictly so. The cities expanded into suburbs following WWII and recently suburbs have expanded into formally purely rural and older areas that were purely forested and farming areas. Co-ops were originally built to handle farming and truly rural areas. Now, we are seeing 10-40 acre plots of land load up with town homes for retreating city and suburban workers seeking respite from crime and congestion.

Many families own a minimum of two cars now that both moms and dads are forced to work and travel to the city or even the suburbs to work. Will that remain so? Will it even be allowed by local laws designed to save the buckling grid?

Yes, if the EV trickle turns into a rush in 4-5 years, what will the be net result? What new restrictive laws will be enacted?

Earth bound, man made fusion is still 80 years or more in the future.....If even then...

Already, Australia, Germany, and many other countries are relighting coal fired plants that they, in their rush to be eco-friendly, had shut down. China is building many coal fired plants as by agreement, they can do so until 2030. India is one of the most populous nations now becoming first world and burning fossils as fast as they can by it from Russia. Even California is not going to shut down one of their last nuclear plants scheduled to go down. Nuclear-rich France is laughing out loud at us all.

The world is changing in ways not imagined only 10 years ago and carbon will be with us for a long time yet. If not, we will truly rape the earth of the minerals needed for wind farms and solar farms, storage batteries, all containing non-recyclable wastes at end of service life.

Watch "Planet of the Humans" and build fission energy systems.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk11vI-7czE

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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Dennis P Brown
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Re: More nasty old practical issues for fusion

Post by Dennis P Brown »

Being realistic, EV's are irrelevant for most people (cost, especially); and as for reducing the carbon footprint, not a significant factor in the foreseeable future. The fact remains that these applications are nice for a small number of people but simply can't be used by a significant percentage of drivers that will make any real difference relative to carbon foot-print.

The increase burning of carbon is going to be a disaster in the near future and current levels are bad enough (412 ppm and climbing) - so, it would have been sensible to have gone nuclear a long time ago; France did this in a big way but they went through a State monopoly - certainly makes sense considering the costs and related issues for that type of energy. But that was never going to be permitted here. Besides, till the latest issues (Covid, war, & greed), carbon based fuels were just so cheap there really was no real incentive to change.

Frankly, I'm shocked how much wind energy has progressed this last decade. Looks to surpass hydro this year. That is no small growth rate.

As for battery advances, these have been impressive of late (the iron oxide battery looks to be the real deal and could be a game changer for solar/wind.) These battery developments will likely continue and get even more impressive and cheaper - in part, thanks to the increase demand/use of wind power. That 'renewable' has really created an incentive for money to go into that area of research.

Frankly, our nuclear industry just isn't geared to start up again - and with various competing designs that just got more and more expensive to build, and the fact that the industry completely ignored the vast R&D the government had compiled for making safer & cheaper reactors, this is no surprise. So, unless there is a tectonic shift in our desire to deal with carbon emissions in a serious manner, I highly doubt fission will receive any real money or effort to expand it - at least, not until carbon reserves (excluding coal) start to be depleted. AGW just isn't an issue that can drive nuclear fission yet - it should but that just is not going to happen.
Last edited by Dennis P Brown on Fri Jun 24, 2022 12:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: More nasty old practical issues for fusion

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All of the foregoing may be moot as the world becomes more unstable as the have-nots might soon be at the gates, upsetting the apple cart. This is no longer about us, here. It is about everybody who are not us, here. As the Monty-Python would say...."Wait for it"...(An old military expression from a drill sergeant as soldiers would lean forward in anticipation of a command to move)......In this case, it will be some world-wide trigger event. What will it 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.
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Re: More nasty old practical issues for fusion

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It’ll probably be monkeypox that finally does us in :-)
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Dennis P Brown
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Re: More nasty old practical issues for fusion

Post by Dennis P Brown »

Richard, you hit the nail on the head. To quote the famous poet, Yeats: "Things fall apart; the center can not hold."
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