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Scientists report nuclear fusion milestone


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#1    UM-Bot

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 11:20 AM

Researchers have passed a crucial milestone in their ongoing efforts to create sustainble fusion power.

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Nuclear fusion, the process that takes place within the sun, has long been sought after as the holy grail of power generation. If an effective self-sustaining nuclear fusion reactor could be built then it would be one of the greatest scientific achievements of the modern age, providing clean and limitless power to everyone without any of the dangers associated with conventional nuclear fission power plants. Unsurprisingly scientists have been pursuing this dream for decades.

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#2    Big Bad Voodoo

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 01:18 PM

Can someone explain us common people what did they create. I failed to understand it.

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#3    Frank Merton

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 01:38 PM

The idea is to use water as a source of energy (technically about one atom in a thousand water molecules would do the trick).  In theory it is a virtually limitless, risk free way to generate abundant energy (the way the sun does it).  They've been working at this for half a century.


#4    Dark_Grey

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 01:45 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 08 October 2013 - 01:38 PM, said:

The idea is to use water as a source of energy (technically about one atom in a thousand water molecules would do the trick).  In theory it is a virtually limitless, risk free way to generate abundant energy (the way the sun does it).  They've been working at this for half a century.

...and now they've finally managed to produce more power than what was used to generate it. That's what makes this such a milestone :tu:

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#5    paperdyer

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 03:15 PM

I guess teh O2 from the water goes into the air, so a win/win!


#6    marcos anthony toledo

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 03:17 PM

Will this turn into and expensive and dangerous way of producing power like fission.


#7    McFakename

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 03:17 PM

I've been waiting for this headline for years


#8    Calibeliever

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 05:03 PM

View Postmarcos anthony toledo, on 08 October 2013 - 03:17 PM, said:

Will this turn into and expensive and dangerous way of producing power like fission.
It shouldn't be that dangerous. The real danger is in the high heat/pressure in the containment system. But even a catastrophic failure would be very localized and there would be no radioactive fallout. i.e. it would be a bad day to be in the building but the neighborhood would be fine.


#9    Imaginarynumber1

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 06:59 PM

The implications if they can finally make this work are staggering.

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#10    StarMountainKid

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 11:03 PM

What exactly would be the result of contained fusion as an energy source? Heat.  Heated water to produce steam. So, whatever machines that would use fusion as an energy source would be steam powered. Electrical generators, mainly, I think.

So, what are the advantage of fusion power vs. fission power?

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#11    DieChecker

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 11:22 PM

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To accomplish this, scientists used 192 beams from the world's most powerful laser to heat up a pellet of hydrogen fuel to the point at which fusion occurs. The team hopes to eventually achieve what they refer to as "ignition", the point at which the fusion reaction is able to produce as much power as the lasers supply.

ONLY 192 of the worlds most powerful lasers concentrated on one tiny pellet of hydrogen??? And how do you make a pellet of hyrdrogen?

A step forward I suspect, but still miles and miles till we have fusion power plants.

I case anyone is confused by the wording... This experiment showed more energy out then was ABSORBED by the pellet. "Ignition" is when the energy out exceeds the energy of the combined lasers used to heat the pellet. Which are not the same thing apparently.

http://www.bbc.co.uk...onment-24429621

Quote

This is a step short of the lab's stated goal of "ignition", where nuclear fusion generates as much energy as the lasers supply. This is because known "inefficiencies" in different parts of the system mean not all the energy supplied through the laser is delivered to the fuel.

Also on the Plus side... We'll have more Helium to use at parties!!!

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#12    Timonthy

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 11:25 PM

The lasers used more energy than was output.
The energy produced by the hydrogen pellet was more than was absorbed by the hydrogen pellet.

Eg. The pellet does not absorb all the energy output from the lasers.

So overall the system is still at a loss. But having more energy output than absorbed is the milestone here.


#13    DieChecker

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 11:28 PM

View PostStarMountainKid, on 08 October 2013 - 11:03 PM, said:

What exactly would be the result of contained fusion as an energy source? Heat.  Heated water to produce steam. So, whatever machines that would use fusion as an energy source would be steam powered. Electrical generators, mainly, I think.

So, what are the advantage of fusion power vs. fission power?
In fusion, you just take hydrogen and transform it into helium, like the Sun does. The problem is delivering enough energy to the hydrogen in enough of a density to get it to change into helium. And then of course there will be the problem of scaling it up. Not radioactive that I know of.

In fission, you need uranium or another very radioactive material. So there is the effort of mining, refining the fuel, dangers due to radioactivity and eventually the fuel is used up and the waste needs to be stored. Very expensive.

Here at Intel we make processors on 12 inch wafers. And, the individual processors on the wafers are called die. And, I am employed to check these die. That is why I am the DieChecker.

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#14    Sundew

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 12:56 AM

If fusion ever becomes a common way to generate "free" energy it will change the geo-political structure of the planet and cause the rise and fall of empires.


#15    sepulchrave

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 02:30 PM

I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist (but I guess this is the appropriate site for it...), but I tend to believe the stories that the National Ignition Facility was primarily designed as a model for the dynamics inside a nuclear weapon - in other words, to study the dynamics inside a thermonuclear weapon without having to break the ban on testing actual thermonuclear weapons.

While it is possible that some of the science will be useful for fusion power, I personally find it very hard to believe that this is a credible avenue for fusion power.

Even if a hydrogen pellet achieves true ignition, how is this energy supposed to be harnessed?

And even if they can truly ignite a hydrogen pellet, to realize a sustainable power source they have to drop a steady stream of pellets into the beam... this is hardly seems to be a practical set up.





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