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Sat Oct 22, 2016, 11:37 PM

New record for fusion: Giant leap in pursuit of clean energy

New record for fusion: Giant leap in pursuit of clean energy

On Sept. 30, at 9:25 p.m. EDT, scientists and engineers at MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center made a leap forward in the pursuit of clean energy. The team set a new world record for plasma pressure in the Institute's Alcator C-Mod tokamak nuclear fusion reactor. Plasma pressure is the key ingredient to producing energy from nuclear fusion, and MIT's new result achieves over 2 atmospheres of pressure for the first time.
Alcator leader and senior research scientist Earl Marmar will present the results at the International Atomic Energy Agency Fusion Energy Conference, in Kyoto, Japan, on Oct. 17.

Nuclear fusion has the potential to produce nearly unlimited supplies of clean, safe, carbon-free energy. Fusion is the same process that powers the sun, and it can be realized in reactors that simulate the conditions of ultrahot miniature "stars" of plasma -- superheated gas -- that are contained within a magnetic field.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Sat Oct 22, 2016, 11:54 PM

1. Hooray for physicists!

This may be the most significant story of the decade!

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Sun Oct 23, 2016, 01:28 AM

2. I like what the smart people are doing.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Sun Oct 23, 2016, 11:08 AM

4. Yes 2 atmospheres. Science Daily's article is a repeat of MIT News

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Sun Oct 23, 2016, 11:13 AM

5. Paraphrased - Plasma should be several times hotter than sun and pressures higher than 2 atmospheres

For fusion to take place, there are two key factors that need to be kept at an optimum level — temperature and pressure. The plasma containing the nuclei, whose natural tendency is to repel each other, should be extremely hot — several times hotter than the sun’s core — and should be subjected to high pressures of more than 2 atmospheres.

http://www.ibtimes.com/nuclear-fusion-world-record-mits-alcator-c-mod-tokamak-breaks-its-own-plasma-pressure-2432110

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Sun Oct 23, 2016, 02:15 PM

6. Fusion has a big, big, big materials science problem. No one has been able to sustain over a...

...long period a flux of neutrons at 14.1 MeV.

In a conversation a few years back after a "Science on Saturday" lecture at PPPL during which I raised this point in the Q&A after one of their promotional lectures - they usually have one or two a year - one of their scientists came over to tell me that they believe they have a material irradiated at more than 200 dpa, but conceded that these values were obtained with lower energy neutrons.

They have not solved the problem at all, and haven't even been able to produce a sustained flux. This is one of the goals of the ITER, to produce that flux over a long term while investigating the materials issue.

The first wall, generally tungsten based in most incarnations I've seen, also must address the need for smooth uniform liquid lithium coatings in order to have any hope of breeding tritium, and additionally it's not clear what the long term solubility issues of lithium tungsten system will be.

Sorry, but fusion energy will not be a significant energy form in the lifetime of anyone now living, and it will certainly be far too late to address climate change, since, um, it's far too late right now. We're over 400 ppm, and no one now living will ever see a lower level.

Have a nice Sunday afternoon.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Sun Oct 23, 2016, 06:16 PM

7. Cheap, clean, fusion is a "be careful what you wish for" kind of thing.

In our modern day consumer economy we humans would eat the entire earth.

I'm somewhat happy it doesn't seem to be possible in this universe, just as faster than light travel doesn't seem possible.

Otherwise we humans would soon be extinct.

If you think fission power is bad...


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Response to hunter (Reply #7)

Sun Oct 23, 2016, 07:39 PM

8. I think we should use science to find out what it can do

Rather than chose to ignore it.
Maybe it won't pan out, but along the way we will learn about the universe. Knowledge is worth the pursuit.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #8)

Sun Oct 23, 2016, 08:14 PM

9. You're not a fan of uranium or thorium power?

Lots of free neutrons so hardly any less messy...

Aneutronic fusion?

Not even close.

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