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International Fusion Reactor Project Moves Forward 265

Posted by Zonk
from the good-political-news-for-once dept.
mjgp2 writes to mention a BBC article about an agreement which will begin construction on the second most expensive scientific collaboration, after the ISS : the world's first large-scale fusion reactor. From the article: "The seven-party consortium, which includes the European Union, the US, Japan, China, Russia and others, agreed last year to build Iter in Cadarache, in the southern French region of Provence ... He said that the participants would aim to ratify their agreement before the end of the year so construction on the facility could start in 2007. Officials said the experimental reactor would take about eight years to build. The EU is to foot about 50% of the cost to build the experimental reactor. If all goes well with the experimental reactor, officials hope to set up a demonstration power plant at Cadarache by 2040. "
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International Fusion Reactor Project Moves Forward

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  • by PoitNarf (160194) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @11:41AM (#15402695)
    "If all goes well with the experimental reactor, officials hope to set up a demonstration power plant at Cadarache by 2040"

    Guess the traditional "40 years away" is now 36 years?
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Thursday May 25, 2006 @11:42AM (#15402705)
    We are these little intelligent creatures that live on an insignificant planet revolving around an insignificant yellow star in one of billions of solar systems among billions of galaxies in this universe.

    It's amazing to me that we should be able to probe the laws of the universe with our limited energy reserves and stunted perspective.

    Will we really be able to create the conditions that led to the creation of the universe in an Earth-based laboratory?

    It's really fucking amazing.
    • by RsG (809189) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @11:55AM (#15402823)
      "gnats on an elaphant"... BadAnalogyGuy

      Congratulations on what is easily the most apt user ID on /. :-P

      Minor quibble though - I wouldn't call this "creating the conditions that led to the creation of the universe". Fusion =! the big bang - this is more like recreating a dwarf star (one which can burn deuterium, but not elemental hydrogen).

      Though it's still obviously a big deal, from a science/engineering/environmental perspective.
    • A fun fact I like to wow people with is where the hottest and coldest places in the known universe are; New Jersey [pppl.gov] and Colorado [nist.gov].

      Well at least they were. Princeton's Tokamak is no longer running and lot's of people have BECs now.
    • Probably not, but the Earth does make a great laboratory for learning about the universe.

      You come from a position of regarding the Earth as insignificant, but I can see that you are closer to recognizing what inspired the documentary The Privileged Planet [privilegedplanet.com].

  • by Douglas Simmons (628988) * on Thursday May 25, 2006 @11:43AM (#15402707) Homepage
    Just like there is room for improvement in battery technology, is there any chance we can come up with a way to transport electricity over long distances without it diminishing in power as fast as it does now? Or do physics tell us otherwise? That's the one thing holding us back from making super-duper large nuclear plants in the middle of nowhere...
    • You'd simply need a resistance-free wire. ... good luck with that.
      • here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superconductors [wikipedia.org]

        Transmission losses represent a certain percentage of transmission. All they do is lower the efficiency. Use 2 cables in parallel instead of 1 and you halve the power lost through heat.

        Fusion doesn't look like it's gonna be cheap anyway so it's just a balance between transmission costs and the costs associated with citing these facilities closer to their customers

    • Superconducting wires would elminate resistive losses but I think you'd still have inductive and capacitive effects so there's no way to get a perfect lossless line.
      • by ClickOnThis (137803) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @12:02PM (#15402894) Journal
        Superconducting wires would elminate resistive losses but I think you'd still have inductive and capacitive effects so there's no way to get a perfect lossless line.

        I think you could take care of inductive and capacitive losses by going to DC. If you really could use superconductors for the entire distribution network, then in theory, you'd eliminate the need for high-voltage AC transmission to avoid I^2*R losses, followed by step-down transformers to provide safer low-voltage levels in customers' homes. Funny -- as I recall, didn't Thomas Edison propose DC in the first place?
        • Actually, inductive and capacative losses don't really play into the equation with superconductors. They expell any external magnetic or electric fields, so there's nothing to induce a current with.

          Although, I think that you would want to continue to use high-voltage low-current in these lines because there's a transition current where the material stops being superconductive.
          • by ClickOnThis (137803) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @12:40PM (#15403224) Journal
            Actually, inductive and capacative losses don't really play into the equation with superconductors. They expell any external magnetic or electric fields, so there's nothing to induce a current with.

            Fields inside the conductor are not the issue. The inductive and capacitive effects occur when two conductors, super or not, are near each other, as they would be if they were part of an AC transmission-line network.
            • Oh, of course. But what I was saying was if the magnetic field from adjacent conductors can't penetrate each other, they couldn't induce a current in each other. AFAIK...
              • if the magnetic field from adjacent conductors can't penetrate each other, they couldn't induce a current in each other.

                Think of it this way. All conductors try to arrange their internal free charges (usually the electrons) to produce a net E=0 inside, because if there were a nonzero E, then it would apply a force to the free charges until the charges were arranged so as to cancel out the applied E within the conductor. Also, a changing B field outside the conductor induces a current in the conductor that
        • Duh. I knew that, guess I'm just stuck in an AC frame of mind. I was just thinking that it'd be cheaper to continue to use AC transmission since the grid is already set up to use it. Using DC for the long distance part would work better than AC but an inverter plant would need to be built to convert the DC back to AC for use.
          • Go to wikipedia and look up HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current). There are
            certain situations where HVDC is advantageous and economical to use over
            normal AC distribution.

            Also, high quality switching power supplies can convert DC to DC analogous
            to how a transformer converts AC to AC with similar efficiencies. As the
            price of copper increases, transformers will actually cost more to make
            and we may start seeing AC distribution replaced by DC distribution.

            If that happens, the real question is whether or not the la
            • If that happens, the real question is whether or not the last mile would
              be DC


              I think it's unlikley that the "last mile" will become DC since there are significant safety concerns with DC (namely that if you grab hold of a live conductor you won't be able to let go whereas if you grab an AC conductor you naturally let go).

              However, it seems quite plausible that we may end up with several low voltage DC supplies *within* the home. You wouldn't want to make the cable runs very long because of transmission loss
        • I think you could take care of inductive and capacitive losses by going to DC.

          This is, in fact, what is done for long-haul lines. The disadvantage if that you need to convert at either end, but as the transmission line length increases, there comes a point where it's more cost-effective to do that than it is to run AC and lose efficiency charging and discharging a big capacitor 60 times a second. And thyristors have gotten a lot cheaper. You also avoid corona discharge, dielectric losses, and so forth.
          • HVDC transmission is also used to link different AC networks that are
            out of phase with each other.
          • You reduce corona discharge because you don't have voltage peaking well above the average level 120 times a second. You can't really eliminate it short of putting the conductors in really wide evacuated tunnels.
            • You reduce corona discharge because you don't have voltage peaking well above the average level 120 times a second. You can't really eliminate it short of putting the conductors in really wide evacuated tunnels.

              I imagine you can eliminate it by putting a low-voltage shield around your high voltage wire. The problem of course is that you need an insulator between the wire and shield that isn't going to break down when subjected to the enormous electric field... and the cost of doing so would also be pretty
    • by centie (911828) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @12:00PM (#15402871)

      Physics tells us that the energy lost from transmitting electricity (as heat) is RI^2, and power is IV (I = Current, V = Voltage, R = Resistance). So to send lots of power without much heating, you use high voltages and low current. This is whats done currently, to the point where the wires can't really take much more voltage (well, not cheaply anyway).

      There's only one proposed solution I'm aware of, which is using high temperature superconductors as wires. These have very low resistance (in some cases theoretically 0) so reduce the energy lost by ohmic heating (the RI^2 thing). Plus they can conduct around 10* the voltage of current wires. The only problem is there still very difficult to make at all, let alone into wires, having only been discovered in 1986. The link below has some more info,

      http://ec.europa.eu/energy/electricity/publication s/doc/underground_cables_ICF_feb_03.pdf [europa.eu]
      • by Phanatic1a (413374) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @12:36PM (#15403192)
        in some cases theoretically 0)

        It's not theoretically 0, it's really actually 0. It's a macroscopic manifestation of a quantum-level effect. In high-temperature superconductors, there is a finite resistance, but in 'classical' superconductors, it's really zero: current flows with no applied voltage.

        The problem with superconductors as a transmission line isn't so much the temperature (although that is a problem). It's not even the materials properties (high-temperature superconductors are basically ceramics. They're brittle and not very strong, which means they aren't very useful as wires). It's the fact that, in addition to a critical temperature Tc above which they don't superconduct, superconductors also have a critical magnetic field and a critical current density. Exceed any of those, and they stop being superconductors, which can lead to some quite catastrophic failures. High-temperature superconductors have much higher critical field strengths than low-temperature ones, and higher critical current densities, but you can't just run all the current you want through them and expect them to not blow up/melt/spontaneously disassemble.

        • by Quantum Fizz (860218) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @02:30PM (#15404254)
          It's not theoretically 0, it's really actually 0.

          Only for DC current. AC current always has a finite resistive component to it.

          Regarding critical current, one could effectively run up a huge potential (eg millions of volts) and send a trickling DC supercurrent to the receiving station. Of course this brings with it all sorts of high voltage problems beyond the typical substations have dealing with high-tension wires. One being the much larger potentials, the other being efficiently converting DC to DC (as opposed to transforming the AC, as traditional power stations do).

          The other thing mentioned is very true, regarding catastrophic failure of the lines. I work with superconducting magnets, where to pack a huge magnetic field, you need tiny wires to get enough wrappings in a small space. So we're basically putting 70+ amps through a 22 gauge wire. That's all fine and dandy when the magnet is immersed in liquid helium at 4K, but if you do something dumb, like change the magnet current too quickly or go past the critical current, you can cause part of the magnet to go normal (as opposed to superconducting), in which case that 70A is going to dissipate LOTS of heat, causing more parts of the magnet to go normal, and ultimately cause the whole magnet to go normal, dissipating the induction energy stored in the magnet as heat, which can boil the liquid helium vigourously, build up pressures, damage the magnet and electronics, etc. Very dangerous. Now imagine a similar scenario but in some transission wires at a potential of millions of volts running through a forest or a neighborhood.

    • by RsG (809189) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @12:05PM (#15402927)
      Like someone else said, what you're thinking of is high temperature superconductors.

      Superconductive materials transmit electricity without resistance. A 10 meter long superconductive cable will have the same losses in transmission as a 10 kilometer one. I am unsure whether this is because the resistance is zero, or so close as makes no difference, but the upshot is vastly improved effeciency for any proccess that is ineffecient due to electrical losses.

      The problem is that most superconductive materials only remain superconductive if they're very very cold. Unless you fancy equipping your transmission lines with cryogenic plants, you can't use them to carry power. There has been a lot of work on "high temperature" superconductors ("high" in this case can mean what we'd consider ambient temperature), but AFAIK we don't have a solution yet.

      Ironically much of the research into these materials is tied into magnetic confinement for fusion research - if you're using a magnetic field to confine the fusion plant's plasma, then you'll get much better results with superconductive coils than you would with normal materials (though under the circumstances, we might be able to get away with low temperature superconductors, since the energy lost to running the cryo plant is offset by the energy saved from higher magnetic field effeciency).
    • [I]s there any chance we can come up with a way to transport electricity over long distances without it diminishing in power as fast as it does now?

      6 words: dump trucks full of car batteries

      That is all.
    • So my dream-like thought here would be a method of converting electricity into light and back. Seeing as how we can do it for information, I would think that it would be possible at some point in time. Or does this enter the realm of the Unification of forces in Physics?
      • I recall that being proposed for orbital power - you put a solar array in orbit, a recieving station on the ground, and beam the power back via microwave. The upshot was that the effeciency of ground based solar is much lower than that of orbital solar, due to the lack of atmospheric interference, which offsets the losses in transmission from converting electricity to microwaves then back again. Of course, for this to be workable, you'd need cheap launch technology... and try getting green energy folks to
    • why bother? why not go with a decentralised system of solar and wind and geothermal energy sources instead? Then there is way less power transit, and thus way less loses.
      • Because you lose all economies of scale.
      • by spun (1352)
        How are power utilites supposed to maintain their monopoly if we do that? You know the world owes them a living, right? No, if we ever do use renewable energy, it will be with big centralized plants so they can protect their rightful income. Oh, I'm sure that won't be the rational they foist off on us, but I'm willing to bet that's the way it will go down.

        Unless governments step in and mandate, oh say, solar panels on all government buildings. Then economies of scale will kick in and solar will be affordabl
    • Using high-voltage AC gets the loss due to transmission down to VERY LITTLE. Like, single-digit percentage points in total transmission loss. High-tension lines in the us are ~700V, while in other places they are commonly something like twice that. Residental power in the US is ~220 at the pole, brought into the house that way, and split into ~110VAC circuits (except for the dryer and maybe electric stove - these pull from both sides for the 220V.)

      Anyway all that babbling is prelude to a question: In th

      • by TigerNut (718742) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @12:46PM (#15403287) Homepage Journal
        Actually... even in residential areas (US and Canada), the line voltage on overhead transmission wires is typically 13800 volts, and long distance power transmission is done at 45000 volts and higher, up to 500 kV for really high power, long distance lines. These voltages are high enough that you need to use 3, 4, or six-wire bundles (spaced about 8 inches or so apart) to keep the electric field gradient low enough so you don't get corona discharge around the wires.
        • Actually... even in residential areas (US and Canada), the line voltage on overhead transmission wires is typically 13800 volts, and long distance power transmission is done at 45000 volts and higher, up to 500 kV for really high power, long distance lines.

          Hey Hydro-Quebec uses 735 kV transmission lines [tdworld.com]. They made a nice buzzing sound when you walk under them... :-)

      • Residental power in the US is ~220 at the pole, brought into the house that way, and split into ~110VAC circuits

        There's nothing you can touch in a US house that's going to be at 220V to ground. Two legs are brought in, along with a neutral, and the two legs are 180 degrees out of phase with respect to each other. So if you want 220V, like for a dryer or a stove, you take both legs, and you have 220V between them, but each one is only 110V wrt ground.

        And it's not 110 at the pole, either. It's 110 when it
    • You could think of Hydrogen as a "battery" if the Nuclear plant power is used to crack water. There is still energy loss though. You'll spend energy cracking water, transporting (ship, vehicle, or pipeline), and during combustion. Crude oil experiences similar losses from source to destination.

      Anyway, the safety of Nuclear reactors are only one problem with the technology. The waste they produce is the more difficult to address. There aren't too many wastelands open to accepting radioactive waste - and
    • There are other strategies, of course:

      1) Build a lot of cheap generators. Generate a lot of power at a power plant (such as the aforementioned fusion plant), and use that power to create fuel (such as hydrogen or methane) instead of electricity. Ship the fuel to your home, and generate the electricity there (using your cheap generator). Then your losses are in conversion and transportation efficiency rather than transmission efficiency. Megabonus: no more ugly transmission lines everywhere.

      2) learn to b
  • by styryx (952942) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @11:57AM (#15402845)
    The Japanese are the contractors, they are pretty well renowned for their efficiency. So I think building time may be reduced.
    More work needs to be done on the spherical Tokamaks such as START and MAST [fusion.org.uk]. Which are showing increasingly promising results. I know from an inside source that more attention is being given to the spherical Tokamak. Especially now that in nearly all the participating countries there is at least a single toroidal tokamak.

    From TFA:
    "However, environmental groups have criticised the project, saying there was no guarantee that the billions of euros would result in a commercially viable energy source."
    This baffles me, just whose side are the environmentalists on again? It doesn't matter that there is no gaurantee. The likelyhood of it being a comercially viable energy source is very high.

    Also, bear in mind that everybody knows that fusion will be "along in 20 years" and has been this way for the past 60. However, most countries in the world are producing larger plasma departments at universities and there is a much greater influx of fusion scientists. Many hands make light work. And it has already been mentioned that there are many tokamaks in the world, Russia, China, Japan and America have multiple. The UK has the current largest, Jet, and it also has the spherical tokamaks as stated.

    Peace out, baby.
    • "From TFA:
      "However, environmental groups have criticised the project, saying there was no guarantee that the billions of euros would result in a commercially viable energy source."
      This baffles me, just whose side are the environmentalists on again? It doesn't matter that there is no gaurantee. The likelyhood of it being a comercially viable energy source is very high."

      They're pointing out the obvious elephant in the room, that they're spending $10 billion to scale up a reactor design that is guaranteed NOT
      • Maybe they should invest in basic research trying to solve the "energy input > output" for controlled fusion instead?

        Huh? They have. From a basic research point of view, JT-60 [wikipedia.org] passed breakeven in 1998. From an experimental point of view they didn't, but that's due to their inability to use D-T fuel (which ITER can handle). Note that their inability to handle it is a political/radioactivity safety issue, not an engineering issue.

        ITER very likely might not be commercially viable (i.e. the costs will exceed
    • It's a little naive to generalize and claim that just because the Japanese are involved, this project will be completed ahead of schedule.
    • by blibbler (15793) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @12:19PM (#15403034)
      From TFA:
      "However, environmental groups have criticised the project, saying there was no guarantee that the billions of euros would result in a commercially viable energy source."
      This baffles me, just whose side are the environmentalists on again? It doesn't matter that there is no gaurantee. The likelyhood of it being a comercially viable energy source is very high


      I think their point is if 10 Billion Euros were spent on developing solar, wind, and other renewable energies, there would be a much quicker and surer return on investment.
      On the other hand, the potential for Fusion is imense. If Fusion has the same benefits as it did in Simcity 2000, after 2050, we won't use anything else.
      • If 10 billion euros were spent on developing solar, wind, and other (currently known) renewable energies, we would probably have a lot more windmills that are only slightly more efficient than current ones. Environmentalists, at least the ones on the fringe who are making noise, are against a lot of things. They don't like coal plants because of the obvious pollution. They don't like fission plants because of the radiation and risk of meltdown. They don't like windmills because of the dangers they pose
      • If we don't spend the $10 billion on fusion at some point, we will never have it. We will always be tied down to the limitations of carbon, fissile, and solar-derived energy forms: hydroelectric interferes with river ecosystems, wind is weather dependent, solar takes up a lot of land and is expensive (all the solar-derivatives are location dependent), fission produces lots of toxic and low-level radioactive waste, and there is a statistically significant correllation between carbon fuel use and the amount o

    • What I don't understand is how billions of dollars can be spent on Tokamaks. I mean, their buffalo wings are okay, but they are loud and the service isn't consistent.

      http://www.tacomac.com/ [tacomac.com]
    • by Phanatic1a (413374) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @12:45PM (#15403275)
      The likelyhood of it being a comercially viable energy source is very high.

      No, I don't think it is, and I don't think anyone can say that with any certainty.

      I tend to class problems in three general ways:

      1. Theoretical problems: We're not sure if this is even *possible*. e.g. FTL travel
      2. Materials problems: We think this is possible, but we don't know what to build it out of. e.g. a space elevator.
      3. Engineering problems: We know this can work, we know how to make it, we just have to work out the nuts and bolts. e.g. The Manhattan project.

      Depending on the particular scheme in mind, commercial fusion is all three.

      1. There are a wide variety of fusion schemes (the various aneutronic cycles, all cycles in thermal non-equilibrium), that are simply theoretically impossible [harvard.edu] to generate net energy from. Even plain old D-T fusion is *theoretically* hard; sure, we know it's possible, but getting it to proceed at a rate sufficient for useful net energy extraction might just be intractable.
      2. What do you build the reactor vessel out of? You need something that can survive the 300-500 displacements *per atom* that it will experience from neutron collisions over the lifetime of the reactor. No such material is known; ITER will generate only one hundredth of that sort of neutron flux, so it can't even adequately explore the issue. There's another test facility intended to do that, but it's doesn't even exist on blueprints yet. Again, proper materials just might not exist, so you might have to replace the reactor vessel inner surface every few years, which dramatically increases the costs of the scheme and makes it much less viable commercially.
      3. Everything else, and there's a lot of it, sits here. And there are some pretty big engineering problems as well, but yeah, those aren't show-stoppers. How do you get the energy out? How do you turn a flood of 14 MeV neutrons into electricity?
      • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @01:02PM (#15403434) Homepage Journal
        >What do you build the reactor vessel out of?
        >How do you get the energy out? How do you turn a flood of 14 MeV neutrons into electricity?

        What happened to the idea of coating the walls with a "waterfall" of liquid lithium? It heats up (energy extraction), absorbs neutrons (sparing the vanadium walls and deferring or eliminating the need to anneal in place), and when it absorbs the neutrons it breeds tritium that can be used for reactor fuel. Is it too high a vapor pressure or something?
        • The idea was never to coat the walls in lithium. The idea is that neutrons that escape the vessel will be trapped in a surrounding *blanket* of lithium. Lithium *inside* the reactor vessel would do nobody any good.
    • You will find that by and large the peopel involved aren't really about any soltuions, they are just about screaming about problems. If you tell them "Ok I agree it's a problem, what do we do about it?" they tend not to have any real answers. The only thing they are ahppy with is you giving them money to continue their cause.

      So it's no supprise this is getting protested as well. It's sad, really, because there are environmentalists that really care about the environment, and want to preserve it while also f
  • Why not? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @12:01PM (#15402887) Homepage Journal
    2040, you say?

    Hmm, let's see.. I'm 28 now, 34 more years means... yep, I'll probably have lived a full life by then. Sure, go ahead, build your thingy, you kids knock yourelves out. :-D

  • By 2040 ? (Score:5, Funny)

    by this great guy (922511) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @12:04PM (#15402906)
    Perfect date to power those Intel Core 6 Octo CPUs running Windows Vista !
    • Perfect. It'll be able to provide the 1.21 gigawatts those cores will need
    • I hate to warn intel about this, but if they don't have Intel Core 6 Octo cpus out in 2020, much less 2040, they're in serious trouble. (According to Intel's roadmaps the Octos are actually due in 2008/2009, but Core 6 is likely to be in the 2015-2018 time frame at the current pace).

    • Nah, XPSP23. Vista's been pushed back to fall 2042.
  • We use plasma to help bring atoms together to fuse.

    Why not accellerate the plasma to a speed that helps this out by building the tokamak into something like a particle accellerator/collider ? Build two rings just like a collider but instead use plasma.

    It would definitely overcome repulsion by atoms.
  • by mentaldingo (967181) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @12:09PM (#15402957) Homepage
    8 years to build a test reactor? When I was a lad I had to build three in a single weekend, in the snow, and it was uphill both ways! Once I only managed two and I was beaten with a leather belt. Quite right too! You kids these days...
  • If it takes 8 years to build, why does it take 34 years before you can demonstrate it?
    • Beta testing...?
    • It takes 8 years to build an experiment which does not generate electricity. The extra couple of decades is for running the experiment and designing the demo reactor.
    • Re:I dont' get it... (Score:3, Informative)

      by dastrike (458983)

      ITER is not the demonstration power plant. ITER is an experimental research fusion reactor that (hopefully) will lead the way to building real fusion power plants.

      So eight years to build ITER, then a couple of decades of research, running tests, tweaking stuff to find out what works out the best. Then when that is done, the demonstration power plant can be start to be built using the knowledge learned by the couple of decades of tinkering with ITER. And by the time the demonstration reactor is done, we are

  • well, it's not in spain, but pretty sure provence is close enough to pump out the mediterranean and re-seal the pillars of hercules and the suez. the best farmland is on the bottom near Rome and Marseille and Istanbul. but best be sure to have a boat handy in case pesky eco-terrorists bomb the fusion plant...
  • In case you don't already know here's the advantage of Fusion power over fision: The waste product.

    D-T fuel cycle Fusion produces Helium.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_power [wikipedia.org]

    Fission power produces low radioactive waste which can be buried
    and also high radioactive waste (cesium-137 and strontium-90) which is too radioactive to be buried (they give off enough heat to boil ground water into steam. Steam could corrode the containers or break up surrounding rock, raising uncertainty about secure burial.)
    The
  • by kerskine (46804) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @01:17PM (#15403574) Homepage Journal
    Instead of putting our eggs into one EU driven basket, I propose that our (US) government sponser the following contest:


    Prize: US$10.0 Billion

    Contest: Within the next ten years, produce a sustained fusion reaction that can generate 1.0 MW of power over a 30 day period.


    I bet there are a couple hundred smart engineers/physicists out there that would make this happen.
  • The seven-party consortium, which includes the European Union, the US, Japan, China, Russia and others, agreed last year to build Iter in Cadarache, in the southern French region of Provence

    I wonder if their logo will look like this [moviebits.co.uk].

    If you don't get it, go watch Contact [imdb.com]

  • by Lazbien (788979) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @02:06PM (#15404029)
    And if it ends up melting down and blowing a large chunk off of the Earth, all we'll lose is France.

    Godspeed!
  • by deanpole (185240) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @02:51PM (#15404440)
    Thorium reactors [cavendishscience.org] have more promise. They are safer, simpler, and cheaper.
  • Solar Power Funding (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrSteveSD (801820) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @03:12PM (#15404633)
    We already have a huge Fusion reactor in the sky blasting us with masses of free energy. Spending billions on an experimental Fusion reactor is all well and good but it might just be a good idea to spend similar amounts of money working out ways to cheaply produce highly efficient solar cells.

    How does government funding for photovoltaics compare to funding for Fusion research? Does anyone have the figures? I've never heard of any grand government push to make dirt cheap 50% efficient solar cells. Imagine if you could buy a 1m square 50% efficient solar cell for $10. That sort of technology could change the balance of power in the world.

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