Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Fusion Reactor Breaks Even

Unknown Lamer posted 1 year,13 days | from the wait'll-the-hippies-learn-it's-nuclear dept.

Power 429

mysqlbytes writes "The BBC is reporting the National Ignition Facility (NIF), based at Livermore in California, has succeeded in breaking even — 'During an experiment in late September, the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel — the first time this had been achieved at any fusion facility in the world.'"

cancel ×

429 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

practical uses plzkthx (5, Funny)

ne0n (884282) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065093)

Cool. Let it run the US gov't.

bbc? (4, Interesting)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065113)

why is the bbc first to report on this? It happens in CA, and we get scooped? wtf??

Re:bbc? (5, Funny)

Obfuscant (592200) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065243)

why is the bbc first to report on this? It happens in CA, and we get scooped? wtf??

It's 5 to 8 hours later in England than it is here. They've had a few more hours to report on it than we have.

But what's this "break even"? If it produced more than it consumed, it's not "break even".

Re:bbc? (4, Informative)

ewibble (1655195) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065399)

Not quite, the whole system it actually consumed more than it produced. The power outputted by the lasers was less than was produced. There are inefficiencies in the lasers so net power is negative.

Re:bbc? (4, Interesting)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065501)

Not quite, the whole system it actually consumed more than it produced. The power outputted by the lasers was less than was produced. There are inefficiencies in the lasers so net power is negative.

Yes and in an future power producing environment, the thermal power output needs to be converted to electricity. Typical thermal power systems does this with an efficiency of about 33-48%, so there is still a way to go. Still they are making fast progress compared to ITER, which have had a good head start.

Re:bbc? (1)

icebike (68054) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065727)

Do said lasers run for the entire operation cycle, or only for ignition?

If it were only for ignition, simply running longer might yield a positive balance.
Is there any way the energy generated could in some way substitute for the lasers?

Re:bbc? (4, Informative)

Anaerin (905998) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065441)

Time flows the same in England as it does in the US, and they get the information at the same instant as the US (Barring marginal transmission delays). If it was a case of hours and timezones, I might agree with you somewhat, but as the freakin' summary quotes: "During an experiment in late September," (Emphasis mine).

Even assuming that means September 30th, that's 7 days the US press has had to sit on this. At that point, the fact that the UK is 5-7 hours ahead doesn't make an iota of difference (Well, technically I guess it makes 4.1666% of difference, but that's hardly the point).

Oh, and why is <sup> getting stripped out of /. HTML?

Re:bbc? (1)

geezer nerd (1041858) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065643)

Results of such experiments sometimes take days to be known and verified to the point of publication. The news reported in early October may well be as early as possible. Who knows why the US press did not get it out first?

Re:bbc? (4, Informative)

Immerman (2627577) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065705)

The *experiment* was in late September. Researchers tend to be rather cautious about announcing significant milestones, especially in high-profile areas such as this, taking time to double check their numbers and the like beforehand. I can easily see the process taking a few days or weeks before they're ready to make a statement.

As for getting the information the same instant the world over - how exactly do you see that happening? The scientists send a press release to (presumably) a small number of news organizations (the BBC probably being one of them). All other organizations hear about it second-hand, likely meaning at least a fair portion of a day, possibly several days, before it's published, and another delay before anyone else can publish anything more than a blatant plagarization. Repeat that a few times before it hits some other news stream that you watch and...

Sure the info probably went up on the researchers website about the same time as the press release, and that is available to everyone everywhere, but I would suspect that very few people routinely check the websites of random researchers on a daily basis - after all it's not something important like the latest celebrity scandal[/sarcasm], it won't make any difference to most people if they don't hear about it for a few days.

Re:bbc? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065495)

Here in Australia we got today's news about the NIF reactor yesterday.

Re:bbc? (4, Insightful)

Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065247)

why is the bbc first to report on this? It happens in CA, and we get scooped? wtf??

Given that a lot of formerly serious news agencies have resorted to the tabloid approach for everything it shouldn't be overly surprising that an institution that isn't beholden to market forces and has a long history of effective (and independant) investigative journalism would be first.

In other words perhaps having a "stiff upper lip" isn't such a bad thing after all.

Re:bbc? (1, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065337)

In other words perhaps having a "stiff upper lip" isn't such a bad thing after all.

Not to mention the fabled "BBC accent", although as I understand it, it's not nearly as extreme as it used to be. Besides, as an American accents mean much less to me in terms of class and such rubbish. The BBC is a great news source though. They even do investigative journalism in the US - I wish US news sources would do as much.

Re:bbc? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065537)

US media houses usually tend to have more weight on sensationalism than actual news. Hell, you can't even tell apart sitcoms and TV news in the US anymore.

Re:bbc? (5, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065285)

why is the bbc first to report on this? It happens in CA, and we get scooped? wtf??

Because Americans don't care about science and if you told the typical American that we achieved nuclear Fusion, they'd say "That's the same thing that killed all those people in Fukishima, we don't need that sh*t here!"

Re:bbc? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065617)

I bet typical American does not know much about Fukushima.

Oh, by the way it is not Fuki-shima!

Re:bbc? (4, Interesting)

Epell (1866960) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065423)

US news agencies are busy covering government shutdown.

Re:bbc? (2)

Grave (8234) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065483)

I initially read that as "celebrating" instead of "covering". I think my mis-read might be just as accurate, sadly.

Re:bbc? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065533)

Why do you think that a link to the BBC site implies they were the first to report on it? LiveScience reported on it a week ago [livescience.com] .

Re:bbc? (1)

smash (1351) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065571)

Because your media is more interested in reporting on crap like bennifer.

Re:practical uses plzkthx (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065377)

.... you seriously don't see the practical real world uses for a fusion reactor that produces energy above parity?

Turn in your geek card, please. :)

Re:practical uses plzkthx (1)

olsmeister (1488789) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065651)

Sure. You use it to power another, bigger fusion reactor. :)

Mr Fusion (5, Funny)

jimbouse (2425428) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065099)

Mr. Fusion here we come!

Re:Mr Fusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065675)

yay i can power Mr Coffee with it

hot fusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065121)

the first time this had been achieved at any fusion facility in the world.

that is, if you consider only the attempts at forcefully breaking the Coulomb barrier.

Holy fucking shit, this is AWESOME. (2)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065127)

And about time too. I imagine there is still a great deal more work to be done before this is of any real use, but still wow. Just wow.

Re:Holy fucking shit, this is AWESOME. (5, Insightful)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065303)

...the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel...

"Energy released" is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than "energy generated". They've simply reached the point where causing a fusion reaction doesn't require more input energy than the reaction itself releases - HARNESSING the released energy (a large chunk of which is energetic neutrons, i.e. not recoverable) is another matter entirely.

Re:Holy fucking shit, this is AWESOME. (5, Interesting)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065607)

...released energy (a large chunk of which is energetic neutrons, i.e. not recoverable)...

The energy in neutrons is not unrecoverable. You would probably need to use a heat engine to get the energy out, but at high temperatures that could be efficient.

The break even point is somewhat arbitrary, as any neutrons out will give you some heat. All you have to do is harness it. In practice, though, about 10X break even is thought to be necessary. To be economic you would need much more, especially since fission is so easy. Most fusion reactions will also create waste, and any reaction that creates copious neutrons will be a proliferation risk. Aneutronic fusion is very hard, and the NRC would probably crush anything else.

It's a nice technical achievement, but I can't see us using it to produce electricity.

Re:Holy fucking shit, this is AWESOME. (1)

wmac1 (2478314) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065639)

Besides, it does not mean they can sustain the reaction for a long time.

I guess the reactions are still too short to be useful for energy production.

first time at any facility? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065151)

define facility, because fusion is known to release energy with great facility.

Re:first time at any facility? (5, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065249)

define facility, because fusion is known to release energy with great facility.

Here [wikipedia.org] is a picture that looks to me very much like a facility.

It achieved a net fusion output about 100X as much as the energy input. (This facility did have the drawback that it was vaporized within a few microseconds after startup, but that's just a cooling issue.)

Here's the real story (5, Interesting)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065173)

FTFA:
"Soon after, the $3.5bn facility shifted focus, cutting the amount of time spent on fusion versus nuclear weapons research - which was part of the lab's original mission."

Makes you wonder where we'd be now if we stopped pissing about on weapons research.

Re:Here's the real story (4, Insightful)

mythosaz (572040) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065191)

Weapons research always trickles down into practical applications.

Re:Here's the real story (0)

BenJeremy (181303) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065245)

Yeah, I need about 40 megatons of highly directed explosive force to get through the massive maple tree root system that infests my yard 2 inches under the surface before I can dig post holes for my back yard shed. We always need bigger weapons.

Seriously. /I hate maple trees

Re:Here's the real story (0)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065363)

Seriously. I hate maple trees

Seriously, I love maple trees. If you don't like them, go live in a place that isn't naturally forested.

Re:Here's the real story (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065407)

Antarctica?

Re:Here's the real story (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065551)

I guarantee you will not find natural forests of maple trees in Australia. Just a smidge more habitable than Antarctica. You will, however, suffer a similar problem with soil surfaces routinely displaying nuclear blast shield qualities.

Re:Here's the real story (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065671)

Plains, deserts, tundra - all available in the US.

Re:Here's the real story (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065683)

What is not to get? Trees die. They get cut down before obliterating your house. Maple is a very resilient wood, even moreso when surrounded with dirt and rock. It is not surprising that the type may illicit ire when having to remove it.

If you love maple so much to bring an emotional rebuttal, perhaps you would like to go to his yard and take them off his hands. I'm sure it would be well appreciated.

Re:Here's the real story (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065717)

It sure beats groves of shitty elm trees. At least maple roots can become beautiful when carved and polished. Also, they don't stink.

Re:Here's the real story (1)

Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065281)

Weapons research always trickles down into practical applications.

Hard to believe anyone still falls for this nonsense - perhaps we should apply it to defense. Oh wait we already have... worked out well didn't it?

Re:Here's the real story (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065307)

This is one of the dumbest arguments ever. The side effects of weapons research pales into comparison with the amount of "practical applications" that would come out of the same amount of money put into direct research.

Re:Here's the real story (3, Funny)

sunking2 (521698) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065333)

Your research and discoveries mean nothing of the commies take it from you.

Re:Here's the real story (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065667)

Your research and discoveries mean nothing of the commies take it from you.

er terrorists. I meant if the terrorists take it from you.

Re:Here's the real story (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065355)

Weapons research always trickles down into practical applications.

Just imagine how much more effective funding practical applications directly would be than letting it trickle down!

Re:Here's the real story (2)

quenda (644621) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065385)

Weapons research always trickles down into practical applications.

But its not very efficient. It would be nice to have more than a trickle to show for the billions spent.
Or at least some weapons useful against modern threats.

Re:Here's the real story (0, Flamebait)

Cordus Mortain (3004429) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065439)

What - like trickle down economics? Yeah, cos that worked so well

Re:Here's the real story (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065529)

Yup. Solving the planet's overpopulation for one.

Re:Here's the real story (2)

mcrbids (148650) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065635)

Why is this modded funny?

Digital cameras were strongly funded by military budgets. As was GPS, Vulcanized rubber (tires), jet engines, the Internet, and too many other things to name.

I mean, perhaps not *always* but the ROI (to the civilian economy) for military innovation funding is actually surprisingly good.

Re:Here's the real story (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065227)

Can't piss off the established energy industry.
And have to keep the tin foil hat manufacturers in business.

Re:Here's the real story (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065295)

Well, the massive detrement to the world economy caused by the continued existence of the USSR would put us far behind.

Re:Here's the real story (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065301)

Ah, my friend, you need the full quote:

In 2009, NIF officials announced an aim to demonstrate nuclear fusion producing net energy by 30 September 2012. But unexpected technical problems ensured the deadline came and went; the fusion output was less than had originally been predicted by mathematical models.

Soon after, the $3.5bn facility shifted focus, cutting the amount of time spent on fusion versus nuclear weapons research - which was part of the lab's original mission.

However, the latest experiments agree well with predictions of energy output, which will provide a welcome boost to ignition research at NIF, as well as encouragement to advocates of fusion energy in general.

Looks like the good of mankind may prevail, after all.

Re:Here's the real story (2)

GiganticLyingMouth (1691940) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065317)

Actually that quote is taken out of context. FTFA: "In 2009, NIF officials announced an aim to demonstrate nuclear fusion producing net energy by 30 September 2012. But unexpected technical problems ensured the deadline came and went; the fusion output was less than had originally been predicted by mathematical models. Soon after, the $3.5bn facility shifted focus, cutting the amount of time spent on fusion versus nuclear weapons research - which was part of the lab's original mission." It's stating that their original goal was to break even using fusion in 2012, didn't reach that goal, and shifted focus to weapons. That was a year ago, in 2012, before their recent breakthrough. I doubt they'll be shifting their focus away from fusion again anytime soon

Re:Here's the real story (1)

gallondr00nk (868673) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065351)

I wonder how many wars practical nuclear fusion would avert. I would wager that it would be more than the result of refining a nuclear deterrent.

Still, these are the sort of breakthroughs I love hearing about. Good work, science.

Re:Here's the real story (1)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065591)

Makes you wonder where we'd be now if we stopped pissing about on weapons research.

We would have achieved the age of

LIGHT

without

HEAT ... heat .. heat... (heat)

And we would be so much more efficient at blinding our enemies before capping them.

Re:Here's the real story (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065595)

You're a fucking moron if you think there is some great division between military and civilian technology development. Some of you fucks can't see the forest for the trees.
 
Oh, and please don't bore us with some bullshit fantasy about love and unity in the human race. We're hardwired for aggression and to think that people are going to collectively throw down their arms and hug is about likely as the second coming of Christ.

Fantastic (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065185)

Only about 5000 other problems to solve....

Re:Fantastic (2)

haruchai (17472) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065669)

"I have not failed. I've successfully discovered 10,000 ways that do not work" - Thomas Edison.

So we just need someone 1/2 as persistent as Edison to get it done.

and the cost of the fuel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065187)

Well considering each pellet cost a fair few thousand and quite some time to make...

Not really a viable solution now is it

Re:and the cost of the fuel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065203)

you mean a few million right?

$200 per pound = millions of tons of coal (5, Interesting)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065427)

The RESEARCH is expensive. The base fuel comes from seawater and costs hundreds of dollars per pound. The energy in one pound is equal to millions of pounds of coal.

Even better, most of the fuel cost is the energy needed to separate the fuel from seawater. With self-powering desalination / fusion plants, fuel cost would be pennies.

The difficulty is that conditions have to be just perfect to keep the reaction going. If anything isn't just right, the process stops and you're left with what looks and acts like a baby aspirin. That's awesome for safety, though. That's the opposite of fission, where they are trying to keep a naturally volatile reaction under control.

Re:$200 per pound = millions of tons of coal (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065603)

The cost of hydrogen has nothing to do with the viability of fusion reactions.

The end goal that must be met is financial viability of say $.05 per KWhr from a continuously operating fusion reactor over the lifetime of the facility.

We are a long time from such a result, if ever. We just don't know if and when we will achieve it.

Hurray! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065189)

Nothing else to say :-)

Link to the NIF Status Update (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065193)

Seems to have just a little more information than the source material :)

https://lasers.llnl.gov/newsroom/project_status/index.php

Re:Link to the NIF Status Update (2)

cachimaster (127194) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065313)

From your link:

>The shot resulted in the highest DT neutron yield obtained to date, estimated at nearly 3 × 1015 (three quadrillion), or almost 8,000 joules of fusion energy

And then:

>All 192 NIF beams delivered 1.7 megajoules (MJ) to the hohlraum

That doesn't look like break even...

Re:Link to the NIF Status Update (1)

niftydude (1745144) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065425)

You are quoting figures from the August experimental results. I'm guessing the latest experiment that the BBC is reporting on is better than that.

I'd also like to see some actual figures though.

Re:Link to the NIF Status Update (3, Informative)

OneAhead (1495535) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065373)

Except that the news is not on their website yet (maybe the people who update it are "non-essential government personnel"). The shot they're talking about in your link consumed 1.7MJ and yielded 8kJ, which is a far cry from what is claimed on the BBC website. As I understood, it also wasn't aimed to maximize energy yield.

What controls the ceiling of the energy output? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065215)

Honest question since I am not a physicist.

What controls the ceiling of the energy output on something like this?

Let's say they have an accidental breakthrough, and suddenly they're getting more out of this thing then they get in. What determines the limit of the maximum energy output? What determines the rate at which that energy is produced? What would something like this look like if the reaction got out of control? Would the experiment just explode, or would it start glowing red/yellow/white hot?

Re:What controls the ceiling of the energy output? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065475)

I'm no physicist but I understand the concept to a reasonable level.

It isn't so much the energy output (per gram of fuel) we're increasing, but rather the energy input (per gram of fuel) we're decreasing. When fusion is achieved, we lose a tiny amount of mass. The energy output is determined by E=mc^2. To get an idea of the scale we're talking about, you may start with 4.0000000008 kg of hydrogen and end with 4.0000000004 kg of helium. .0000000004 kg * (3x10^8)^2 would yield 3.6x10^7 joules of energy. Some is of course lost, but the primary thing we're trying to achieve is a lower input rather than more efficient collection. Note that my numbers are made up and probably off by a couple of magnitudes but give you a general idea.

I can't really give you an answer for the rate.

What would happen if it got out of control? Are you familiar with the hydrogen bomb? It's about 1000x more powerful than what we dropped on japan. If all systems failed we would get a nice crater where the research facility was. The chance of that happening is astronomically small, it is highly controlled.

Re:What controls the ceiling of the energy output? (1)

Dereck1701 (1922824) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065479)

If this is the same system I saw a few years ago there is no chance of runaway reactions or explosions. Basically they put a BB sized amount of fuel into the center of a several story sphere and blast it with a bunch of lasers for a femtosecond. The amount of energy produced is basically a combination of the amount/type of fuel placed in the center of the chamber and the amount of laser energy they are able to hit it with. Sure they could put a baseball sized chunk of fuel in, but with the available laser energy it would never go nuclear. At current there is no way of adding fuel continuously to the chamber, and even if there were I don't think the lasers can fire in a sustained fashion.

Re:What controls the ceiling of the energy output? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065485)

Well, you have to keep feeding those pellets of hydrogen fuel into the reactor. Without those pellets, nothing to fuse, no energy out. I don't think there's a way for the reaction to go out of control with the way this works.

Re:What controls the ceiling of the energy output? (1)

niftydude (1745144) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065517)

It isn't really a continuous reaction in the way that you are thinking. The way it works is that lasers fire at a tiny pellet containing a few milligrams of hydrogen fuel. Lasers are fired at the pellet from all sides. These lasers heat the surface of the pellet, which essentially implodes and causes a fusion reaction with the hydrogen. This causes a pulse of energy.

Each laser shot on each pellet generates a fixed amount of power, since there is only a small amount of hydrogen fuel in each pellet.

Getting continuous power means continuously dropping new pellets into the chamber, and firing the lasers at each pellet. So you can't really have a run away reaction in the way that is possible with uranium reactors, as with this design of fusion reactor, if you want to stop the reaction you either stop the pellet feed, stop firing the lasers, or both.

Re:What controls the ceiling of the energy output? (1)

OneAhead (1495535) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065519)

It would just explode, and the ultimate ceiling is the tiny amount of fuel they're using (though in practice, there are lower ceilings related to the amount of heating/compression the machine can manage and the amount of time this compression is maintained). Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] says that they're ultimately expecting 20MJ with the current setup (though the announcement indicates they only surpassed 1.8MJ), and with design improvements to the apparatus up to 100-150MJ. It also says the chamber is designed to contain a 45MJ explosion, equivalent to 11kg of TNT. To make a politically incorrect analogy, that's roughly as much a suicide bomber would carry, or the warhead of a hellfire anti-tank missile. It will make a decent "boom" but it won't destroy the building.

already 50 times hotter than the sun. air stops it (1)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065567)

To achieve fusion, you heat fuel to about 50 times as hot as the interior of the sun. So you're WAY beyond red hot, like a million times red, when it's operating. That's one of the major problems - it tends to melt anything that gets near it, so how do you hold it in place?

If it got out of control, you'd let go, allow it to fall to the floor. 1 gram of hot fuel + 10,000 kilograms of cold concrete = cold, inert fuel. Alternatively, allow air in. Air mixed with the fuel would dilute it and the reaction would stop.

Suppose you couldn't drop it or otherwise disrupt the perfect conditions required for the reaction to continue? The reaction slows down if it gets TOO hot, so it can't get above that temperature. It would stay hot. That's about it. You'd have a VERY hot little cloud of hydrogen.

I'm not a nuclear physisist. I welcome corrections from any who are present.

O

now catch it (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065217)

Now catch it and make it useful.

And then cure aging.

And overpopulation and global warming.

And war.

And get off my lawn.

Still not at self sustaining, but getting there. (5, Insightful)

dlingman (1757250) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065233)

A few points - Still more energy needed than produced - because lasers aren't 100%. They exceeded the amount of light energy going in, but not the power level fed into the laser. Second, how much of the released energy was in a form that could be fed back in to make the next thingy go moob? Not seeing anything on that here...

Overall though, it's a step in the right direction. Go guys go!

Re:Still not at self sustaining, but getting there (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065283)

I agree. This experiment has a ways to go to true break even.

Re:Still not at self sustaining, but getting there (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065473)

Exactly, and highly misleading really. After all, fusion bombs put out a lot more energy than you put in, but we can't capture it. This they are getting 1:1 but still won't be able to capture 50% of what they produce.

Congrats humans (2)

cachimaster (127194) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065237)

Fusion achieved. Sometimes we are awesome creatures, congrats to all involved.
And not a minute too soon.

Re:Congrats humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065491)

Uhhhmmm, we've achieved fusion many times before.... What are you talking about?

Helium? (3, Interesting)

irving47 (73147) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065257)

I don't know a lot of about fusion, but I've read Helium is a byproduct of fusion reactions. Once these things start getting run more and more, will we be able to harvest the helium generated to stave off the coming shortages?

Re:Helium? (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065341)

Yep, all you need is a 5 billion dollar fusion reactor to make a couple of bucks of helium.

Re:Helium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065343)

No we will just release it into the atmosphere so everyone can speak in a slightly higher pitch

Re:Helium? (4, Informative)

niftydude (1745144) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065381)

Helium is a byproduct - but the amount generated is tiny - the pellet for each fusion reaction only contains a few milligrams of hydrogen fuel, and so even less helium is generated.

Re:Helium? (1)

iksbob (947407) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065403)

Provided they settle on a deuterium/tritium fuel mix, yes.

Re:Helium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065435)

Hehe, can't stop thinking of the news titles after an incident at the plant:
  - "excessive helium production transforms reactor into a blimp"
  - "helium leak because of excessive pressure makes people in neighboring town speak funny"

The future will indeed be a better tomorrow :)

Re:Helium? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065685)

If people making fun of others for actually making progress is a better tomorrow then just kill me now.

Re:Helium? (1)

Carnildo (712617) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065451)

Maybe. On the one hand, if 100% of our electricity comes from fusion, that works out to around 100,000-1,000,000 kilograms of helium produced each year. On the other hand, the amount produced per reactor at any given time is minuscule, and would be a pain to try to collect.

Believe it when someone validates the data.... (0)

marcgvky (949079) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065437)

This is "cold fusion" until someone, other than state-run media or a US federal hack, validates the data. Now comes the "easy part", harnessing the energy and turning that energy into something compatible with the existing power grid. Certainly, another 20 years of government employment and $3.5B U.S to accomplish that... LOL Hope I am wrong, call me cautiously optimistic.

Re:Believe it when someone validates the data.... (1)

willy_me (212994) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065587)

another 20 years of government employment and $3.5B U.S to accomplish that... LOL Hope I am wrong, call me cautiously optimistic.

I would say you are being way too optimistic. We are still at the stage where we are trying to prove the theory can be made real. Have not even thought about designing a usable reactor nor do we know how big such a reactor would be. All we know for sure is that it will be so bloody expensive that failure is not an option - which is why there are doing these far cheaper tests.

Released != Captured (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065481)

Once again the devil is in the details. All they are saying is that the energy produced by the reaction is slightly greater than what it took to shoot the hollaram with the friggin laser. They haven't exactly captured it and put it back into to a laser pulse, because the energy in the form of D-D, D-T in neutrons is very hard to grab, Secondly it probably lasted a femtosecond, not exactly steady state. Progress, but my money is more on Internal Electrostatic Confinement devices like the Pollywell if they could somehow get around that nasty Bremsstrahlung Radiation.

Should've bought an iPad (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065503)

Thanks to Apple's strict security measures and "Macs don't get viruses" this wouldn't have happened.

Shutdown agitprop? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065589)

Lemme see... struggle for 26 years to get there and then SHAZAM! slide out news of the success during the shutdown?

Sorta like spending extra money to close open-air parks and memorials, try to close the ocean, try to close state parks, etc but then (mysteriously) opening some of those vary same places for an immigration rally? During this shutdown, there is very little one can take at face value that is touched by federal money. The administration has ordered all of the bureaucracy to maximize the pain and make news about the negative impact as a way to increase the pain on the President's opponents (He'd MUCH rather behave like a barbarian than like all the previous Presidents of my lifetime who had to follow the Constitution and go negotiate with the congress for the money they wanted to borrow and spend)

If this report is true, it's excellent news... but it had better not be just propaganda. After the shutdown ends (and it WILL end) they should re-run the experiment. If they succeed, there should be raises all-around and more money allocated to the project (Successful projects for the benefit of all Americans, as opposed to a few cronies, SHOULD be funded) but if they are magically incapable of demonstrating this success after the shutdown they should all lose their jobs and their facility should be shutdown as just another bogus politically-tainted money hole.

Three things missing... (4, Interesting)

u19925 (613350) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065593)

There are still three things missing:
1. Scientists are only counting the laser energy absorbed by the fuel. Not all of the laser energy is absorbed by the fuel.
2. Lasers are not 100% efficient. They take lot more energy than they give out.
3. The generated energy is in the form of heat. Converting it to electrical is not there.

Overall, the efficiency is still less than 1%. Far away from anything usable.

Re:Three things missing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065693)

EROI, not efficiency.

Meanwhile... (1)

ZipXap (2773541) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065605)

The experiment has been successfully duplicated on the East Coast... 'During an experiment in late September, the amount of money released through the [congressional] confusion reaction exceeded the amount of money being absorbed by the central banks — the first time this had been achieved (this month) at any government facility in the world.'"

Not My Def of Break Even (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065627)

From the LLNL press notice - 8000 J of fusion energy from a 1.7 MegaJoule laser pulse. Progress but still a really long way from break even...

Scientific "break even", or practical "break even" (4, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | 1 year,13 days | (#45065631)

One of the big criticisms of the NIF is that the design is basically unsuited to capture more than a slim percentage of the energy released. It's good for weapons research because it works vaguely the same way a bomb does - rapidly compressing fuel in a burst. But it doesn't really have a mechanism for capturing that energy, unlike tokamak-based designs.

Based on the summary (still reading TFA itself), it sounds like they broke even in terms of the energy input into the fuel being less than the total amount released from the reaction. But to be a self-sustaining, practical fusion power source, it needs to extend that two directions - first, by breaking even in terms of power into the entire system being less than that released, and second by breaking even in terms of power captured, not just power generated. The former is straightforward - more efficient lasers, more efficient reactions - but, and this is from a non-engineer's perspective, I don't think the latter will be simple.

Not break even (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,13 days | (#45065723)

FFS people, learn that the BBC is shit.

It is not break even!

It returned less energy than used. LESS!

Break even is defined as returning as much or more energy than was used, not just more energy than reached the target.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?