Carbon-free fusion power could be ‘on the grid in 15 years’

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Snaploud, Mar 11, 2018.

  1. Snaploud

    Snaploud Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2001
    Location:
    Rhode Island, USA
    This project looks promising:

    ...Decades of disappointment in the field has led to the joke that fusion is the energy of the future – and always will be.

    The just-over-the-horizon timeframe normally cited is 30 years, but the MIT team believe they can halve this by using new superconducting materials to produce ultra-powerful magnets, one of the main components of a fusion reactor...

    ...The experimental reactor is designed to produce about 100MW of heat. While it will not turn that heat into electricity, it will produce, in pulses of about 10 seconds, as much power as is used by a small city. The scientists anticipate the output would be more than twice the power used to heat the plasma, achieving the ultimate technical milestone: positive net energy from fusion...


    https://www.theguardian.com/environ...on-brink-of-being-realised-say-mit-scientists
     
  2. StarCruiser

    StarCruiser Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    Location:
    Houston, we have a problem...
    Still wondering about the method of conversion...

    I know there are a bunch of different ideas floating around (some have been for decades) but, I keep hearing the old "boil a liquid to turn a turbine" solution and that's got a LOT of lost energy in it...
     
  3. Timelord Victorious

    Timelord Victorious Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2006
    Location:
    Germany, Earth, the Solar System
    Always 15 years in the future is no different than always 30 years in the future, is it?
     
    Serveaux and Cyanide Muffin like this.
  4. Spot261

    Spot261 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2013
    Location:
    spot261
    No, it's always 15 years sooner.
     
    E-DUB, Gary7, ThankQ and 1 other person like this.
  5. tharpdevenport

    tharpdevenport Admiral Admiral

    Pft -- come on, we all know you can get free unlimited energy with a few magnets in a make-shift spinning device thanks to Youtube videos. It must be true!

    ;-)
     
    Cyanide Muffin likes this.
  6. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2005
    Location:
    On the USS Sovereign
    When I was a young adult, commercial fusion was 10 years in the future.
     
    USS Triumphant likes this.
  7. Asbo Zaprudder

    Asbo Zaprudder Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2004
    Location:
    In my very expensive writing shed
    I assume it's a D-T fusion device so you'd still have to deal with the physical damage caused by pesky by-product neutrons. Consequent failure of the superconducting magnet coils could cause severe damage to the machine. Even with He3 fusion, you'd still get neutrons from by-product reactions. ...and, yes, efficient conversion to electricity of the heat produced would still need to be addressed.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018
  8. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    standard orbit
    The fifteen-year figure doesn't sound "Scottied."

     
  9. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2001
    Location:
    Great Britain
    But I thought the future of power was clean coal! :lol:
     
    Cyanide Muffin likes this.
  10. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2011
    Location:
    The Black Country, England
    Well it does clean up quite nicely when scrubbed with detergent.
     
    ThankQ likes this.
  11. Steven P Bastien

    Steven P Bastien Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2018
    Location:
    3 steps ahead of where I was 2 seconds ago
    You can save time and just mine the white coal.
     
  12. Asbo Zaprudder

    Asbo Zaprudder Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2004
    Location:
    In my very expensive writing shed
    I have some carbon-free coal for sale.
     
  13. Cyanide Muffin

    Cyanide Muffin All hail Doctor 13 Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2015
    Location:
    In the great hall of Pythea
    Just ask Tony Abbott, or Donald Trump
     
  14. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2001
    Location:
    Great Britain
    Shouldn't that be tweet Trump, as he seems to favour that particular form of communication. Which might be ok if didn't actually miscommunicate with it.
     
  15. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    Your Mom
    Standard brayton cycle. That's all they've really got, mainly because for all the research done into sustaining the fusion reaction at appropriate power levels, there is very little corresponding research into magnetoplasmadynamic energy conversion, and thermo-electric conversion is inherently inefficient at those power levels. Even a combination of MHD and Brayton cycle conversion -- assuming you could even make that work, which given the containment problem you probably couldn't -- would only be at most 40% efficient for a fusion reactor. This makes commercial grade fusion that much trickier to pull off because it needs to produce FAR MORE than twice as much power than is required to start the reaction in the first place.
     
  16. Discofan

    Discofan Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2018
    Location:
    Discofan
    Yeah, the second principle of thermodynamics is not your friend in that case. It would be better to do away with heat altogether and turn it directly into electricity.
     
  17. StarCruiser

    StarCruiser Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    Location:
    Houston, we have a problem...
    The Brayton Cycle is just inefficient enough to quite possibly be a killer for fusion power.

    It takes a fair amount of the energy in the reaction to sustain the reaction and maintain control. They REALLY need to redirect some effort to finding a better way to convert the power.

    Something similar to Solar Cells - optimized for IR instead...maybe?
     
  18. Discofan

    Discofan Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2018
    Location:
    Discofan
    Yes, but we're still far from figuring it out.
     
  19. Asbo Zaprudder

    Asbo Zaprudder Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2004
    Location:
    In my very expensive writing shed
    About 80% of the energy generated during D-T fusion is carried away by the neutrons that are produced. The only currently feasible choice you have for extracting their energy is thermalisation, allow them to undergo beta decay within a moderating blanket or to be captured by the nucleus of an atom with a high cross-section such as cadmium or boron. The Brayton cycle is the only practical solution for extracting the energy at the present time. Neutrons are tricky blighters to tame.
     
  20. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    Your Mom
    And it gets worse when you consider neutron flux is next to useless in MHD conversion since they don't have a net charge and don't induce a current when they move. Really, the only way to convert the by products DIRECTLY into energy would be to use a form of fusion whose byproducts are mostly charged particles.

    I think only proton-proton fusion would really be able to achieve that, or maybe DT-He3.