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ITER Fusion Reactor On Track To Generating Power By 2028

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the iterative-process dept.

Power 232

ananyo writes "ITER, the multibillion-euro international nuclear-fusion experiment, is on track to generate power by 2028. But some of the science that was supposed to happen along the way is going to be dropped to keep the vision alive. The plans form the main thrust of recommendations by a 21-strong expert panel of international plasma scientists and ITER staff, convened to reassess the project's research plan in the light of the construction delays. The plans were discussed this week at a meeting of ITER's Science and Technology Advisory Committee. The meeting is the start of a year-long review by ITER to try to keep the experiment on track to generate 500 MW of power from an input of 50 MW by 2028, and so hit its target of attaining the so-called Q10, where power output is ten times input or more. ITER initially aims to produce a Q10 for a few seconds, and then for pulses of 300–500 seconds, and work up over the following decade to output ratios of 30 times more power out than in, with pulses lasting almost an hour. Eventually the aim is to develop steady-state plasmas, which will yield information relevant to industrial-scale fusion-power generation. It is experiments relating to the understanding of longer-pulse and steady-state ITER plasmas that are most likely to be delayed beyond 2028."

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Why Didn't I think of that? (-1, Redundant)

matty619 (630957) | about 10 months ago | (#45134147)

Generating power by generating power. Brilliant!

Re:Why Didn't I think of that? (1, Informative)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 10 months ago | (#45134167)

It takes a special brand of incompetent to that obviously fuck up an article *headline.*

Re:Why Didn't I think of that? (1)

bondsbw (888959) | about 10 months ago | (#45134195)

A fusion reactor would be able to power itself... so I guess the headline is actually correct.

Mod parent down, please (1, Troll)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 10 months ago | (#45134283)

The headline has been fixed. Stop modding up this shite, it's getting in the way of an actual interesting discussion.

Mod parent down, please (1)

bondsbw (888959) | about 10 months ago | (#45134749)

There's no way to edit Slashdot comments. So the GP has no way of saying "Sorry... it's fixed!"

Perhaps that should be viewed as a limitation of /. and not of a being that can't travel backwards in time.

Re:Why Didn't I think of that? (4, Funny)

methano (519830) | about 10 months ago | (#45134633)

Fusion! The energy of the Future and always will be!

Re:Why Didn't I think of that? (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 10 months ago | (#45134919)

"Fusion! The energy of the Future and always will be!"

Haha. That's good.

While I don't believe "It always will be", it is true that if past projections had been accurate, we would have had large-scale fusion power 30 years ago or more.

I'll believe THIS projection when they can achieve true break-even: when ELECTRICAL output exceeds all inputs (which includes all advance fuel acquisition and processing, etc.). So far nobody has come close to that. Until they do, this is still a pipe dream.

this is excellent news about generating power. (0)

nimbius (983462) | about 10 months ago | (#45134205)

ITER Fusion Reactor On Track To Generating Power By Generating Power By 2028? i for one am certainly am certainly excited by this news. The potential to potential to solve humanities ever growing ever growing energy needs is certainly is certainly something we can all can all agree is important is important.

Mod parent down please (-1, Flamebait)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 10 months ago | (#45134309)

The headline has been fixed. Stop modding up this shite, it's getting in the way of an actual interesting discussion.

(BTW, it's "humanity's" not "humanities." If you're going to be a smartassed cunt about someone else's grammar, you'd better have all your own grammar in pristine condition. People who live in glass houses shouldn't take a dump in broad daylight.)

Re:this is excellent news about generating power. (3, Insightful)

durrr (1316311) | about 10 months ago | (#45134475)

The problem with the ITER approach is that the commercial reactor types based on it will cost too much to compete with traditional nuclear and coal. As It's based on a GIGANTIC no-financial-holds-barred approach.

The smaller approaches like LPP, General fusion, TriAlpha and whatever they're called nowdays that have shoestring to moderate budget will likely not only succeed to produce viable fusion energy sooner, they'll do so much cheaper too.

Re:this is excellent news about generating power. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45135479)

There are a lot of alternative fusion reactor designs being researched, and mostly are all a lot smaller and cheaper than something like ITER. But they are not excepted to stay that cheap, and prices will go a lot higher when scaled up. Many projects have already reached the point that basically says, "We need you to add another zero to our budget so we can build a ten times bigger version, but it won't quite be at breakeven then." While there is still a lot of hope these projects will produce something cheaper than a tokamak in the long run, the final plants will likely still be about the same price range as fission plants. It is a bit early to tell though, and it isn't even easy to extrapolate a power plant cost from ITER's cost, considering how it is a research design with way more diagnostics, access, and flexibility than would be needed in a power plant.

Re:this is excellent news about generating power. (1)

Zalbik (308903) | about 10 months ago | (#45135609)

The problem with the smaller approaches is that they have all failed to reach the break even point, and there is no indication that they even can reach break-even at their current scales.

It's a little like the old joke: "We'll lose 2 cents on every sale, but we'll make it up in volume!"

Re:this is excellent news about generating power. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45134831)

I think that comment is the funniest thing I've read all day. Thank you.

Re:this is excellent news about generating power. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 10 months ago | (#45135017)

"The potential to potential to solve humanities ever growing ever growing energy needs is certainly is certainly something we can all can all agree is important is important."

Brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department, of your Natural Guard.

Improvement (4, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | about 10 months ago | (#45134225)

Fusion power has been 20 years away for something like 60 years now. It is progress that we're down to only 15 years away. Hopefully by 2053 we'll be down to just 10 years away.

Re:Improvement (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 10 months ago | (#45134335)

You are sooo right. I've been reading "fusion power is coming soon!" for decades. Hopefully they are actually making progress and not just being more optimistic in their projections. With any luck, we won't run out of fossil fuels before they manage it.

Reminds me of an axiom of getting the status of software development tasks. "If a developer *says* they are 90% done," they are really only half way there. Or the one that says "The last 10% takes more than half the effort."

Re:Improvement (0)

Salgak1 (20136) | about 10 months ago | (#45134383)

In related news, We have ALWAYS been at war with EastAsia; We're from the Government, and here to help; I'll respect you in the morning, and; I'm a Lawyer, you can trust me. . .

Re:Improvement (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45134653)

You are sooo right. I've been reading "fusion power is coming soon!" for decades.

When the first projection was made back in the 70s about fusion in next 50 years, it assumed that funding would remain constant or would increase. But what happened was funding kept getting slashed, over and over again. It would be like saying we'll get to the moon in a decade in 1960, and then proceeding to gut NASA of any resources. Then in 1970s bitching they are not much further along as they only had money for 1 sounding rocket and 3 slide rules.

To be even more frank, fusion *requires* that physical sciences and material sciences advance to a certain point. Cutting funding to such research makes fusion further away. And physical science research has been severely cut since 1970s. If it wasn't for the EU, Japan and China, ITER would not have existed in the first place. US has only shut down funding.

Sorry for incorrect mod (1)

coder111 (912060) | about 10 months ago | (#45135485)

Sorry for incorrect moderation. I'm posting this so that my moderation is cancelled.

By the way, do you have any sources for the claims regarding connection between time estimates & funding? I'm not saying I don't believe you, but it would be interesting to see more details regarding this issue.

--Coder

Re:Improvement (2)

necro81 (917438) | about 10 months ago | (#45135521)

It would be like saying we'll get to the moon in a decade in 1960, and then proceeding to gut NASA of any resources. Then in 1970s bitching they are not much further along as they only had money for 1 sounding rocket and 3 slide rules

That just about sums up the history of manned space flight ever since we got to the Moon; certainly since the Shuttle.

Re: Improvement (1)

David Gould (4938) | about 10 months ago | (#45135635)

Also, even with all the perpetually shifting estimates, it really does appear to be getting closer. It's not a case of "always 50 years away": 50 years ago, it was "50 years away"; 20 years ago, it was "25 years away"; now, it's "15 years away". That is actual progress -- not as fast as we'd like, or as was once expected, but progress.

Re:Improvement (0)

lgw (121541) | about 10 months ago | (#45135665)

With any luck, we won't run out of fossil fuels before they manage it.

We've been 20 years away from running out of fossil fuels for about as long as we've been 20 years away from fusion - many decades. No worries - there's a big working fusion reactor in the Blue Room, and if fossil fuels run low we'll just start putting up collectors.

Fusion is really only interesting for mobile applications (which will be 20 years away once we have industrial fusion power), until/unless our civilization moves beyond Type I on the Kardashev scale.

Re:Improvement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45134451)

Induction is not a logically valid form of reasoning.

Re:Improvement (0)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | about 10 months ago | (#45134457)

Well, first they must sell us all of that oil that they are laboriously sucking out of the ground, then they must sell us all that energy produced by their expensive nuclear power plants, then maybe they will actually find a way to cash in on all that green energy business the hippies keep raving about. And then, only then we can talk practically free, abundant energy for everyone.

Uhum, sure.

You might want to add a couple more decades to your list.

Re:Improvement (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 10 months ago | (#45134469)

Indeed. Pretty soon we'll have an entire generation of scientists and engineers retiring after spending their entire life NOT generating power from fusion.

We should have scrapped the whole thing long ago.

Re:Improvement (2)

Sardaukar86 (850333) | about 10 months ago | (#45135321)

We should have scrapped the whole thing long ago.

Personally I'm very glad Lockheed-Martin don't share [fusenet.eu] your defeatist attitude.

A fully operational commercial reactor by 2027? Sounds like progress to me.

Re:Improvement (2)

lgw (121541) | about 10 months ago | (#45135751)

They claim they'll have a 100 MW reactor ready in 4 years. Fundamental research kept secret from everyone else in the field, or utter bullshit - which do you think is more likely?

Re:Improvement (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 10 months ago | (#45135811)

It wont be a full scale operating commercial reactor.
It will still be a PULSED research reactor with no generators for electric power generation attached.

Re:Improvement (1)

Zalbik (308903) | about 10 months ago | (#45135681)

Pretty soon we'll have an entire generation of scientists and engineers retiring after spending their entire life NOT generating power from fusion.

Your parents spent at least a couple of decades of their lives NOT producing you.

They should have stopped while they were ahead.

Re:Improvement (2)

Inzkeeper (767071) | about 10 months ago | (#45134495)

I agree that fusion power has been 20 years off for at least 60 years now.
We have known the basic principles for a long time so how hard can it be, right?
You just mash some atoms together until they fuse. After lunch we will tackle time travel.

What makes this different is the international consortium of government funding of the project to the tune of $30 BILLION.
Call me naive, but I believe this is going to happen. On time and on budget, well, that is a different question.

Re:Improvement (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 10 months ago | (#45134519)

What makes this different is the international consortium of government funding of the project to the tune of $30 BILLION.

I'm sure usable fusion reactors will be built at some point this century. I'm equally sure that they won't be developed by governments throwing money at people with a decades-long record of failure.

Re:Improvement (2)

necro81 (917438) | about 10 months ago | (#45135555)

I'm equally sure that they won't be developed by governments throwing money at people with a decades-long record of failure.

And I am equally sure that whoever does figure out commercially viable fusion will owe a great debt to the cost-overridden, government-funded nuclear and plasma research that preceded it. Whether it is actually acknowledged ... well ... I'll settle for being able to keep the lights on without melting the planet.

Re:Improvement (2)

mlts (1038732) | about 10 months ago | (#45134639)

Look at what it took with the US to make nuclear fission with the Manhattan Project. Sometimes the only way to get something to work is to throw enough money at it, that just sheer force of capital, it gets done.

Call me naive as well, but look at the payoff: Global warming slowed (manufacturing goods still will spew CO2, but burning coal and other stuff would be stopped.) Desalination would become easy so field would be irrigated regardless of how fickle the weather gets. Oil and gas still have a use (polymers), and those resources can be used as construction materials, not burned.

Even things that couldn't be done due to being energy prohibitive would make economic sense. Titanium would become far cheaper to make and would be a very useful building material.

Of course, with useful energy comes a row of advances. Space elevators become closer to reality for example.

Re:Improvement (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 10 months ago | (#45134885)

Look at what it took with the US to make nuclear fission with the Manhattan Project. Sometimes the only way to get something to work is to throw enough money at it, that just sheer force of capital, it gets done.

That wasn't 'making nuclear fission work'. That was making nuclear bombs work.

Fission reactors were essentially trivial: pile up enough moderately enriched uranium and it starts fissioning on its own.

Re:Improvement (1)

necro81 (917438) | about 10 months ago | (#45135587)

Fission reactors were essentially trivial: pile up enough moderately enriched uranium and it starts fissioning on its own.

Which, although perhaps technically easier, wasn't exactly cheap, either. It was also heavily funded and subsidized by governments. If left solely to the private sector to be developed and proven, it probably still would have happened, but who knows when and in what form.

Re:Improvement (1)

onkelonkel (560274) | about 10 months ago | (#45134933)

"sheer force of capital" - nice, I will have to steal that and use it sometime.

Re:Improvement (2)

Isaac-1 (233099) | about 10 months ago | (#45135057)

It is not just willingness to through money at the problem, but to cut through the red tape. At one point in the Manhattan project they needed the use of a large amount of silver (6,000 tons) to build the magnets for one of the Uranium processing plants at Oak Ridge TN (There was a war time shortage of Copper) So they "borrowed it from the U.S. Treasury, a mid level procurement officer went to Washington with a a letter saying a AAA priority war project needed it,...

Re:Improvement (0)

Valdrax (32670) | about 10 months ago | (#45135071)

Of course, this all assumes that fusion will be cheap someday. That's even further off than "commercially viable" or even "sustainable as a 24/7 power source even with heavy subsidies" is.

For all we know, fusion may always be expensive but still have utility in avoiding some of the hidden costs of "cheaper" fossil fuels.

Re:Improvement (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45135395)

$30 billion. How about some perspective [usdebtclock.org] . Or the $160 billion spent each year looking for new oil sources. $30 billion is like a bad joke. Let's go for that much per year for a while and move the test dates of ITER up from 2028 to at least 2018. It's past time to get this done, we're really dragging our feet. And while I'm ranting, where's the full size polywell [wikipedia.org] ? We can do several things at the same time.
One thing is for sure, fusion will never work unless we actually try to make it work.

Re:Improvement (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45135793)

Agree - $30 Billion is chump change. The risk reward balance is weighed heavily in favour of spending triple that and accelerating development. What are the consequences of not having a replacement for fossil fuels in the next 50 years? Will renewables be enough to sustain our civilization with half again as much population? The engineering is there now, the materials science is quickly advancing, the scientific description of the process has been around for decades - what the hell are we waiting for? The US Government spends more each month propping up a terminally ill consumer society. Ontario flushed 1 Billion down the drain in cancellation fees related to proposed gas generating plants.

Re:Improvement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45134671)

I"ve said the same thing about Solar power as well. Every store here, and elsewhere, always states that the "new breakthrough" is 5-10 years off from being mass produced to revolutionize solar power. Twenty years later, and we're all still waiting.

Re:Improvement (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 10 months ago | (#45134751)

Those were my thoughts as well, but it's worth pointing out that if the US had poured $1T into fusion research instead of an Iraq War, we might be looking at 5 years out instead.

The false assumption there was that the Middle East oil was the primary motivation for the war (rather than the pricing of that oil), so it doesn't really make direct sense, but if we had better people running the society, better things would happen.

Re:Improvement (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 10 months ago | (#45134891)

Even this one does not say we will be using electricity generated by fusion power in 15 years

Eventually the aim is to develop steady-state plasmas, which will yield information relevant to industrial-scale fusion-power generation. It is experiments relating to the understanding of longer-pulse and steady-state ITER plasmas that are most likely to be delayed beyond 2028.

Basically they say they can generate power by 2028 but not at a scale that can be used industrially. Even the research on industrial scale will have to wait till after that and there is no estimate on how long it will take. They didn't shorten th time; they just changed the target. There is a big difference between "generate power" and "generate power in an industrial scale and decrease reliance on fossil fuels".

Re:Improvement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45135551)

The problem is not generating power on "industrial scale", but simply generating electricity. ITER was never expected to be used for generating electricity from the power, but it is expected to produce upwards of 500 MW of fusion power. Proposed variations on a followed up designed, usually named DEMO, are where test are supposed to be done for generating electricity and preparing it for actual power plant use instead of science and basic engineering development. There are timelines around for that too.

Jimmy Two Times (0)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 10 months ago | (#45134233)

I'm gonna go check the papers for this story, check the papers.

Oh boy (4, Interesting)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 10 months ago | (#45134267)

Here's an actual bit of steady progress in nuclear fusion which I happen to think is quite exciting, but cue the standard /. "it's not going to work because progress has been slow" armchair experts and smartass cunts in 5-4-3-2-1...

Re:Oh boy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45134379)

Why don't you take your own advice, stop being a "smartassed cunt" and try writing something that might foster an "actual interesting discussion", or will you just carry on bitching about the community while saying nothing we haven't heard before?

Re:Oh boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45134489)

Why don't you learn how to use scare quotes properly?

Re:Oh boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45134853)

Don't forget the sanctimonious wankers like you trolling, with absolutely nothing to say about the subject itself.

Re:Oh boy (0)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 10 months ago | (#45135147)

"A bit of steady progress in nuclear fusion" sounds like something on the subject to me. Did you miss that part, you amusingly stupid mucksavage?

Re:Oh boy (1)

symes (835608) | about 10 months ago | (#45134925)

A bit of skepticism isn't a bad thing when a lot of science gets hyped beyond belief. Or worse, poorly reported. Nuclear fusion could be one of the holy grails of science right now - it might transform our world unimaginably. I like /. because of this skepticism, it tempers my excitement... in more ways than one

Re:Oh boy (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 10 months ago | (#45135043)

The funny thing is, the people who used to say "fusion power is 20 years away" always ended it "with appropriate funding". The same people saying that said that it was 50+ years away with funding at then current levels. Actual funding levels have been below what was current when those estimates were made and significant progress has still been made. So in reality, their estimates were if anything conservative.

Smoke & mirrors? (1)

Forget4it (530598) | about 10 months ago | (#45134351)

hope this isn't smoke and mirrors like E-CAT seems to be now http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_Catalyzer [wikipedia.org]

Re:Smoke & mirrors? (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 10 months ago | (#45134499)

You only just realized that?

mod d0wn (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45134405)

for the record, I Fate. Let'S not be

This is great news! (0)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 10 months ago | (#45134415)

Fusion power has been 20 years in the future for the last 50. Now it's only 15!

Re:This is great news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45134501)

That means we're only 150 years from fusion power becoming a reality!

On track? (1)

Sterculius (1675612) | about 10 months ago | (#45134471)

Can scientific breakthroughs really be scheduled? "Hey Einstein, could you give us an estimate on the Relativity thing?"

Re:On track? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45134535)

"Hey Einstein, could you give us an estimate on the Relativity thing?"

Sure, but it depends on how fast you're moving.

Re: On track? (2)

djfreestyler (2579333) | about 10 months ago | (#45134695)

And only if you're a spherical cow in a vacuum.

Re:On track? (3, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | about 10 months ago | (#45135289)

Can scientific breakthroughs really be scheduled?

No, but engineering ones can be estimated pretty well. The basic principles are well understood. All that's left is building and fine-tuning. It's not like this is the first tokamak reactor we've built (see, e.g., JET & Tore Supra), and we're already planning DEMO to follow ITER as a sustained, continuous reactor. ITER is just a testbed for technologies needed to make a real reactor, like materials to resist damage from neutron emissions (in conjunction with work at IFMIF), plasma heating & vessel cooling, and a variety of other supporting technologies. ITER won't even have a way to generate power from the steam it produces. That's DEMO's job.

Re:On track? (2)

Sterculius (1675612) | about 10 months ago | (#45135523)

So there is a clear path to actually producing energy with nuclear fusion? It has been theoretically possible for many decades, but the devil is usually in the details. I'm glad to hear that I will have my flying car soon!

D-T fusion (2)

Scooter_Libby (939947) | about 10 months ago | (#45134479)

According to wikipedia [wikipedia.org] they are planning to use Deuterium-Tritium fusion reaction which makes the majority of energy through high speed neutrons: D-T reaction [wikipedia.org] , which are notoriously difficult to extract energy from. Letting the neutrons bombard a stainless steel shell, which gets hot, heats water, turns a turbine, is the standard way to do things, but the steel shell becomes brittle and radioactive pretty quickly. I hope this actually solves something rather than simply being another method to use more exotic fuel, and reactor equipment, to produce radioactive results along with power.

Re:D-T fusion (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45135131)

ITER does not solve the problem of neutron damage to the first wall. ITER will, over its lifespan, subject the first wall to only a fraction of the neutron load a real commercial reactor would have to withstand. We don't actually have the materials needed to build such a first wall right now, in part because a fusion reactor would be needed to generate the right sort of neutron flux to test the materials.

This is all assuming ITER works. Tokamaks have a number of problems, including the possible formation of intense streams of relativistic electrons during plasma disruptions. In ITER, if not mitigated in some way, the electron stream could become so intense it would explosively vaporize holes through the wall of the reactor, like some kind of science fictional beam weapon.

Re:D-T fusion (4, Funny)

0123456 (636235) | about 10 months ago | (#45135273)

In ITER, if not mitigated in some way, the electron stream could become so intense it would explosively vaporize holes through the wall of the reactor, like some kind of science fictional beam weapon.

Then they've clearly missed an opportunity. Rather than trying to sell it to governments as a fusion reactor, they should have been selling it to the US military as 'some kind of science fictional beam weapon'.

Re:D-T fusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45135303)

In ITER, if not mitigated in some way, the electron stream could become so intense it would explosively vaporize holes through the wall of the reactor, like some kind of science fictional beam weapon.

"Good news, people! The USA has suddenly decided to come back onboard the project!"

Re:D-T fusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45135601)

Letting the neutrons bombard a stainless steel shell, which gets hot, heats water, turns a turbine, is the standard way to do things, but the steel shell becomes brittle and radioactive pretty quickly.

Which might be why they are not planning on using steel to absorb most of the neutrons, and will be using blanket made of materials that are less of a problem when activated and potentially can be used for breeding more tritium.

Re:D-T fusion (1)

Valdrax (32670) | about 10 months ago | (#45135727)

Letting the neutrons bombard a stainless steel shell, which gets hot, heats water, turns a turbine, is the standard way to do things, but the steel shell becomes brittle and radioactive pretty quickly. I hope this actually solves something rather than simply being another method to use more exotic fuel, and reactor equipment, to produce radioactive results along with power.

Figuring that out a minor goal of ITER and the primary purpose of IFMIF, the International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility. [wikipedia.org]

Article on fusion power (1)

zyche (784345) | about 10 months ago | (#45134523)

While on the subject it's worth mentioning the article [slashdot.org] from Ask Slashdot which nicely and detailed answers most of the questions you may have.

Actually, this is one of the best content articles I can remember on Slashdot... The graph in the middle is simultaneously funny and sad. :-/

They got that the wrong way around... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45134587)

...should be generate 50MW of power from an input of 500MW.

Putting this in perspective (1, Redundant)

StripedCow (776465) | about 10 months ago | (#45134665)

From wikipedia:

The power production density of the core [of the Sun] overall is similar to the metabolic production density of a reptile.
...
At 19% of the solar radius, near the edge of the core, temperatures are about 10 million kelvin and fusion power density is 6.9 watts/m3

If even fusion inside the Sun does not produce any useful power output per volume, how are they going to get useful power outputs here on earth?

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_core [wikipedia.org]

Re:Putting this in perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45135219)

Because the sun uses a fusion cycle unlike anything we will ever attempt on earth.

Re:Putting this in perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45135623)

My god! You've PROVEN that hydrogen bombs are a hoax!

Joy... (1)

Sollord (888521) | about 10 months ago | (#45134741)

Base don this I fully expect to see the first fully developed commercial fusion power plant come online by 2130 given the track record for fusion research.

Re:Joy... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 10 months ago | (#45134867)

In 2130 it'll only be 20 years away!

Re:Joy... (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 10 months ago | (#45134963)

Base don this I fully expect to see the first fully developed commercial fusion power plant come online by 2130 given the track record for fusion research.

I think it's far more likely that, in 2030, Elon Musk will announce that Telsa have finally produced a usable electric car, powered by a Mr Fusion pack, at the same time as the government announces a new $100,000,000,000 project that will build a working fusion reactor by 2050.

Re:Joy... (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 10 months ago | (#45134993)

How is that going to happen when the research into industrial scale fusion will be delayed till after 2028?

Eventually the aim is to develop steady-state plasmas, which will yield information relevant to industrial-scale fusion-power generation. It is experiments relating to the understanding of longer-pulse and steady-state ITER plasmas that are most likely to be delayed beyond 2028.

Re:Joy... (1)

Sollord (888521) | about 10 months ago | (#45135127)

Well around 100 years of research to get to steady-state plasma so another 100 years to develop a commercially viable power plant

Re:Joy... (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 10 months ago | (#45135733)

I made a mistake. I read 2130 as 2030 so you are probably close.

Iter alternatives (1)

volvox_voxel (2752469) | about 10 months ago | (#45134745)

It's too bad that there are currently only two alternatives -- laser fusion,which will probably never work, and the ITER that is a scaled up tokamak, both are exceedingly complicated and expensive. How does this compare with the Tandem Mirror Experiment, or the Axisysymmetric Tandem Mirror? I've read that the Gas Dynamic Trap axisymmetric mirror machine at Novosibirsk, Russia, has demonstrated plasma confinement with no turbulence, and that it's possible to generate electricity directly without the need to boil water to turn a turbine.. If you scaled this device up, how would it compare with the tokamak? Is it an inherently more stable platform, but less efficient? It's too bad that the numbers point to larger and larger Tokamak's to achieve fusion, but then we don't necessarily want a cheap source of a large quantity of neutrons..

Richard F Post has a lot of interesting things to say on the subject, and was one of the scientists behind the magnetic mirror experiment at LLNL, that was mothballed before it ever started due to budget cuts..

Re:Iter alternatives (1)

Iskender (1040286) | about 10 months ago | (#45135023)

Richard F Post has a lot of interesting things to say on the subject, and was one of the scientists behind the magnetic mirror experiment at LLNL, that was mothballed before it ever started due to budget cuts..

A small clarification: Richard F. Post is an actual person: http://www.aip.org/history/acap/biographies/bio.jsp?postr [aip.org]

So, despite appearances, the above post is NOT "F. Post" troll. I'm actually a bit disappointed.

Re:Iter alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45135721)

Mirrors are still a long way from the Lawson criteria, either with really low temperatures or really low densities. Some mirror designs are trivially simple in a sense to make into fusion reactors, but they would have to be at least several kilometers in size. Others have more complicated issues with assuming they will be instability free as things are scaled up. There is still research going into a bunch of magnetic confinement concepts other than tokamaks, but they each seem to have some of their own issues even if they lack some of the big ones found with tokamaks. Others still need to have larger tests done to make sure nothing new comes up, because some of the maturer designs had previously been at the point of looking "perfect" only to run into new problems for larger ones.

sounds familiar (1)

HtR (240250) | about 10 months ago | (#45134775)

Being a /.er, I won't let my complete ignorance of this project stop me from commenting.

I have to say, though, that this sounds like what happens to a large scale basic science research project when a Project Manager gets a hold of it.

"Maybe regular status reports will help those discoveries get made on schedule!"

Thermal energy (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 10 months ago | (#45134789)

So, the fusion reactor will generate 450MW energy bottom line as hot plasma.
I assume transforming that 450MW thermal energy into roughly 200MW electric energy is left as an brain excercise for the readers here?

Re:Thermal energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45135065)

Thermal blanket captures neutrons, gets hot, boils water, 19th century.

hard to get excited (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 10 months ago | (#45134835)

Forty years ago, I was a big proponent of fusion. My enthusiasm has petered out, sorry. I'm sure that science will be advanced by this project, but I've lost hope of seeing practical fusion power generation.

Re:hard to get excited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45135139)

I wonder where the 3D printers fans will be in 40 years when not a single of their revolutionary predictions will have come to pass?

Re:hard to get excited (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 10 months ago | (#45135225)

I wonder where the 3D printers fans will be in 40 years when not a single of their revolutionary predictions will have come to pass?

<1980>
I wonder where the microprocessor fans will be in 40 years when not a single of their revolutionary predictions will have come to pass?
</1980>

Hey, I wonder whether you'll be back here in 40 years to admit you were wrong? I'd better bookmark this story.

Re:hard to get excited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45135487)

I wonder why people keep comparing information processing with physical technologies as if there's some common ground? Hey, how fast was a 747 in 1980? How fast was it in 1969? How fast is it now? How fast do you think it'll be in 40 years?

Re:hard to get excited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45135145)

Just wait til one of these gets Stuxnet or someone leans on a red button and it escapes its magnetic shield and it burns a hole in the Earth and cause a change to Earth's rotational velocity then we'll be sorry. Just like Fukushima, baby

Re:hard to get excited (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 10 months ago | (#45135621)

Well, that would be exciting.

Here come the loonies (0)

benjfowler (239527) | about 10 months ago | (#45135031)

First person to say 'Farnsworth Fusor' gets a punch in the face.

Bollocks (1)

macson_g (1551397) | about 10 months ago | (#45135133)

Nothing is "on track". Only foundation has been build so far. Sure, all is on schedule, but the most difficult stuff is still ahead. CERN managed to accumulate some 15 years of delays, and ITER is 100x more complex.

What about lockheeds Mr Fusion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45135365)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_beta_fusion_reactor [wikipedia.org]

Quite an interesting space.. fusion reactors are more or less just engineering problems and there are a million and one ways to smash atoms with enough force to overcome coulomb forces yet vast majority of funding is only going into the massive machines and or military bullshit (NIF) with no practical horizon for commercial viability even if they are wildly successful.

Have to wonder if the problem here is not so much engineering problem as it is the will to actually achieve best result possible vs more pedantic concerns of hoarding massive amount of funding on big expensive toys bound to keep you and your friends gainfully employed for years to come or maybe fusion reactors must be like particle accelerators the bigger the better. Certainly no shortage of crackpots and dead ends in this space which look superficially quite promising on the surface.

Keywords "hoverboard" , "quantum computer" and "fusion reactor" are to forever be considered vaporware until such time as they actually exist in this AC's opinion.

Excuse me? (1)

new death barbie (240326) | about 10 months ago | (#45135419)

FTFA: "Crucial to that is getting to the point, scheduled for 2027, when the first nuclear fuel would be injected into the reactor. "

So... the first *actual attempt at fusion* is some FOURTEEN YEARS AWAY, but the scientists are confident they're on track...

Yeah, I don't think I'll get excited quite yet., Check back in fourteen years and we'll see.

Re:Excuse me? (1)

hAckz0r (989977) | about 10 months ago | (#45135757)

Its nice that they have such confidence in their design. Think about it. They will be switching on enough power to be equivalent to the gravitational pull of a star, and they expect no problems? Even the LHC had problems with cooling their magnets, and we _know_ how to make magnets. That was just scaling up what we already knew how to do.

Confining that kind of containment energy in an enclosed space has got to present problems unforeseen by any mathematical formulas. Its not like we have actually sent space probes deep inside stars just to see how to best contain their fusion plasma. We are after all talking about millions of degrees, where anything we could come up with, composite, alloy, or otherwise, will surely melt on contact.

Re:Excuse me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45135775)

No nonononono. There's ITER and DEMO.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DEMO [wikipedia.org]

ITER is a disgusting, blatant SCAM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45135669)

http://www.bibhasde.com/fusion.html

It's a bunch of fraudsters setting up jobs for life. They get paid a fortune whether they succeed or not - with the chances of them succeeding being ZERO. They continually promise jam tomorrow, while the TAXPAYERS have to pay for this nonsense.

Why aren't we spending ALL of this money on LFTRs? (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors). At least they work.

Economically viable? (2)

WittyName (615844) | about 10 months ago | (#45135731)

Great if you can build one, but can you build one that produces power that is cheaper than nuclear fission, solar, wind, etc?

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