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Green Light For ITER Fusion Project 359

Posted by kdawson
from the and-where's-my-rocket-plane dept.
brian0918 writes, "A seven-member international consortium has signed a formal agreement to build the $12.8 billion International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). From the article: 'Representatives from China, the European Union, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States signed the pact, sealing a decade of negotiations. The project aims to research a clean and limitless alternative to dwindling fossil fuel reserves, although nuclear fusion remains an unproven technology.' ITER will be built 'in Cadarache, southern France, over the course of a decade, starting in 2008.'" If ITER is successful, a commercial reactor could be built by 2040. Funny, I seem to remember fusion researchers from Livermore in the 70s say that commercial power was 20 years away...
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Green Light For ITER Fusion Project

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  • by i_should_be_working (720372) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:14PM (#16936770)
    Estimates of when fusion would be a viable energy source didn't take into account years of under-funding. ITER could have been done years ago.
    • by altoz (653655) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:18PM (#16936870)
      It's always interesting how we're trying to predict when scientific breakthroughs will occur. Isn't it the nature of science such that breakthroughs happen when you don't expect them?
      • by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:46PM (#16937564)
        It's always interesting how we're trying to predict when scientific breakthroughs will occur. Isn't it the nature of science such that breakthroughs happen when you don't expect them?

        This isn't really science, it's more like engineering. Engineering at the edge of what is currently possibly, admittedly, but still engineering. It's unlikely that significant new scientific breakthroughs will come of this.
    • by MightyYar (622222)
      Dude, do you have any idea how much OIL you can buy for $11 billion? That's like 5 billion gallons.

      (Yes, I'm joking, and yes I realize that all that oil would last the US about 13 days...)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by QuantumRiff (120817)
      The sad part is that the "Negotiations" on where to put the damn thing and fund it have taken 10 years. Imagine how much work could have been done on this already..
    • by iamlucky13 (795185) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @04:23PM (#16938318)
      True to some extent, but not in the practical sense. None of the old fusion power timeline estimates (most were more or less guesses, actually) really reflected the difficulty and complexity of sustaining a burning plasma. There seems to have been a natural tendency to think it was only one step up in difficulty from sustaining a fission chain reaction. In reality, that is far from a trivial challenge. In the last 25 years, researchers have invested a lot of effort learning how to heat the plasma, deliver fuel, deal with heat and neutron bombardment, and confine the plasma so it doesn't fizzle out.

      ITER will finally take all these lessons and apply them to create the first truly sustained (or "burning"...ie (Q - losses) > 1) fusion reaction. From there the crew will still have to learn how to operate it on a continuous basis, applying all of the above challenges to long term experiments, and if all goes according to plan, provide a testbed for integrating a Tokamak core into a functioning powerplant.

      In light of all this, I'm skeptical that fusion power prospects could have reallistically gotten more than 10 years ahead of where they are today even with more abundant funding (and according to the current ITER project timeline, the reactor will achieve first plasma late in 2016, so that's where we might be today). Of course, it doesn't help that a disappointing portion of the ITER news over the last 10 years has been the debate over whether to build it in Japan or France.

      The lack of motivation still frustrates me though. The $12 billion cost of ITER is roughly the value that the US produces in raw coal every 4 months, yet we backed out of our 10% committment in 1999 until jumping back on the wagon in 2003. Throwing money at the challenges won't make them go away, but it could sure expedite solving some of them. I can only hope that once ITER starts operating (assuming no insurmountable challenges are then found), people will really see the potential of the Tokamak design and waste no time converting what we know into the design of the first generation of fusion power plants.
  • huh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:15PM (#16936782) Homepage Journal
    no opec nations getting in on this action?
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:16PM (#16936804) Homepage Journal
    I submitted this later than brian0918, I'm pretty sure, so I'm not grousing about my rejection. This is what I submitted (with additional links I'd included).

    The Telegraph [telegraph.co.uk] and several [sciam.com] other [reuters.co.uk] news outlets [guardian.co.uk] are reporting on the international deal to build the world's most advanced nuclear fusion reactor that was signed in today. Representatives of the EU, the US, Japan, India, Russia, South Korea and China signed the ITER [wikipedia.org] (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) agreement in Paris, finalising the project which aims to develop nuclear fusion as a viable energy source to fossil fuels. According to the ITER consortium, fusion power offers the potential of "environmentally benign, widely applicable and essentially inexhaustible" electricity, properties that they believe will be needed as world energy demands increase while simultaneously greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced,justifying the expensive research project.

  • by bunions (970377) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:16PM (#16936822)

    Environmental activists, who generally oppose nuclear power, have argued that the project is too costly and would divert attention from current efforts to fight global warming.


    Shut up you fucking hippies, get a haircut.

    Seriously, this -is- an effort to fight global warming, and if you weren't so dogmatically opposed to anything involving OMG ATOMS!! you'd see that.
    • Mod parent up please. That's dead-on.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Grandparent is indeed right, and his harshness isn't too out of place, either.

        I can accept that Greenpeace/similar don't agree with me on more fission being good for the environment. However, speaking out against fusion research just makes me angry. If (and probably when) they get it to work, it'll make fission look inefficient EVEN IF one ignores the nuclear waste issues.

        Environmentalists often do good work. They need to marginalize their extremists, like most constructive organizations though.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by snarkh (118018)

      $12bln is certainly a lot of money for a research project with very uncertain payoff.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by WombatDeath (681651)
        Except that if it works and gives us an alternative source of power generation it will have proven to be a trivially small amount of money. In my view it's money well spent, with the risk/reward balance way over in the project's favour.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by snarkh (118018)
          No, it is not a trivial amount of money. Even if it works it will need to work in a commercially feasible way, which at this point seems not just uncertain, but improbable. There is a lot of alternative sources of energy, such as solar energy, tidal waves, geothermal, etc. An investment of that scale would benefit any of them tremendously.

          Huge amounts of money have already been sunk in making fusion work over the last 40 years with negligible results. The scientists keep promising and keep getting funded,
          • by bunions (970377) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:43PM (#16937490)
            Firstly, it's 12bn over 10 years. Secondly, it's combined funding from the United States, the European Union, China, India, Russia, Japan and South Korea. So yeah, spread out over 10 years and half the worlds population it IS a trivial amount.

            Secondly, yes it's high risk. But unlike solar it's not research that is likely to be undertaken by industry.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by WillAffleckUW (858324)
            Also, we need to consider something that no fusion proponent will say.

            In reality, after running the reactor for 20-40 years, you have a radioactive shell. You also get a small amount of radioactivity leakage in the nearby environment.

            It's miniscule compared to fission of course, but it does exist. The reactor and components need to be decommissioned and disposed of (which, were we smart, would involve putting them in the Marianas trench and folding them back into the earth's mantle to be reprocessed.

            Howev
            • by lordholm (649770)
              Yes, though this is waste that will be non radioactive in about 150 years, that is not a very big time. Think of fission that give waste that has to be stored away for periods of over 10000 years.

              Other reactions will produce less radioactive waste than the D-T reactions in the ITER reactor (the other reactions are more difficult to achieve, therefor the D-T reaction in ITER).

              Summary: Fusion is clean!!! This is a great day for mankind, etc, etc...
            • by bunions (970377)
              > after running the reactor for 20-40 years, you have a radioactive shell.

              Do you have a source for that 20-40 year figure? I see it bandied around occasionally, and I have a hard time believing the useful service life of a goddamn fusion reactor is only 20 years. My -car- has a longer service life than that.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Cedric Tsui (890887)

              I'm doing my masters in fusion. Grandparent is indeed correct. The reason being, the products of the fusion reaction are regular helium, and neutrons. The neutrons will activate the building which is the source of the low level waste. So we just keep things that get really hot out of the reactor design.

              Right now, after ITER's 10 year lifetime, the only components that will need to be considered nuclear waste is are the tungsten components of the first wall (the wall facing the plasma) The products of act

          • by smoker2 (750216)
            The Bush administration has said it is planning to spend $120bn (£68bn) on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars this year, bringing their total cost so far to $440bn.

            The US is sharing the $12 bn cost of ITER.

            Get your own countries priorities straight before you complain about funding for something that may benefit the entire world.

      • by maxwell demon (590494) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:46PM (#16937556) Journal
        The Apollo program did cost an estimated $135 billion in today's dollars. [wikipedia.org] And the expected payoff was what?
        $12 billion is less that 1/10 of that. And it might give us a great source of energy.

      • $12bln is certainly a lot of money for a research project with very uncertain payoff.

        12 billion dollars is really nothing, especially spread out among different nations. Consider that the US spent an estimated 135 billion 2006 US dollars to go to the moon. What did we get out of it, some moon rocks and publicity? Sure we got to study the origins of the moon, some technology, etc. But those payoffs were just as uncertain, if not more.

        I'm just saying put the costs into perspective. The Iraq war has curre
        • by snarkh (118018)
          Yes, put the costs in the perspective -- the total NSF funding for CS research in the US is of the order of $500mln per year and has been flat for years now. This is funding for a _whole area_ of science and engineering. And you are comparing it to one project, whose scientific benefits are unclear and practical promise is uncertain.

          Why do you want to compare this to the war in Iraq and not to levels of funding for other research?

          As far as the Apollo project is concerned, the symbolic significance is huge,
          • by Vellmont (569020)

            Why do you want to compare this to the war in Iraq and not to levels of funding for other research?

            Because money is fluid, and equal. Why complain that limited science dollars aren't being spent on what you consider important, and look at the real problem that we're not spending enough money on science period?

            Also, that 12 billion is spread out among multiple countries, and 10 years, so comparing it to the funding of one year and one country isn't terribly valid.

            Even if you compare it to JUST the NSF fundi
    • by cliffmeece (653677) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:25PM (#16937052)
      A lot of environmentalist types are open but skeptical about nuclear power. I'm sure they will remain doubtful but can be convinced with the proper arguments. That argument however, is probably not 'shut up hippie'.

      It's funny, actually. Slashdot, supposed home to left wing techno hippies, has far more preemptive 'the hippies won't allow it' posts than actual hippies-complaining-about-nuclear-energy posts.

      • by bunions (970377)
        Sorry, I'm a little bitter. I have found a lot of 'environmental advocates' to be just as dogmatic as any religious zealot. Facts that don't buttress their position simply do not matter for many of them. If you're a reasonable environmentalist who can acknowledge that people need to eat and consume energy for non-essential items and drive cars sometimes and have the occasional child, then that post was not directed at you.
    • by metlin (258108) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:31PM (#16937212) Journal
      Oh come on. They need something to whine about.

      And obviously, if you do not do it their way, it is wrong.

      Most of them don't really care about anything - they merely care about media publicity.

      The ones that do care are busy making a difference, the ones that don't are busy raising a hue and cry over stupid issues.

      Sad, that.
    • by BigDogCH (760290)
      I am sure some environmental activists are against it, you can't expect any idea to get 100% support. OPEC is probably not a big fan of the project either. In either case, I am sure that many activists are supporting the project. It just sucks when articles make statements like this, giving environmental activists a bad name. It is similar to when some plant lover decides that testing drugs on algae is hurting them. Just because some people claim to be against a project, and claim to be protesting in t
    • Seconded (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xaonon (891615)
      To quote Niven/Pournelle, "the air's already full of crap from fossil fuel plants and we're running out of fossil fuels, and damned fools keep delaying the nuclear plants that might get us out of that particular box."

      Nuclear waste may be nasty stuff, but at least it stays in one place where you can keep an eye on it, rather than being thrown up into the atmosphere at large. And the byproducts of fusion are generally a lot less problematic than those of fission - from what I understand, mostly radioactivate
    • by Knetzar (698216)
      I've never understood why nuclear power is considered to "solve" global warming.

      Here is the situation as I see it:
      Temperature = energy coming in to the Earth (radiation/light, gravitational effects) + energy released in the Earth (nuclear, burning fossil fuels, etc...) - Energy stored in the each (creating fossil fuels, etc...) - energy irradiated away from the Earth (radiation/light, gravitational effects).

      So, while stopping the use of fossil fuels will increase the energy irradiated, the energy released w
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by albertost (1019782)
        ehm.. it's not that the temperature has increased due to the heat generated by the combustion of fossil fuel.. the problem is the CO2 going to the atmosphere due to the combustion..
  • by ENOENT (25325) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:16PM (#16936824) Homepage Journal
    1. Commercial fusion power.
    2. True AI
    3. Duke Nukem Forever

    ???
  • I figure that'll be done about 5 years after the teenagers in Michigan [slashdot.org] solve the worlds energy problems.
  • Yeah. Right.

    Please google "shale oil reserves".

  • Sheesh... I thought for sure they would volunteer to host the project.

  • Funny, I seem to remember fusion researchers from Livermore in the 70s say that commercial power was 20 years away...

    It was, for the longest time. This century, it will be 35 years away for the rest of the century.
  • $12.8billion is nothing in the scale of the economies of the countries involved, and much less the combined economies of all parties. That sum represents about 0.5% of the US federal budget for 2006. Why on Earth has it taken so long? Ten years ago it should have been a matter of "How much? $100m a year for fifteen years? Who do I make the check out to?". We'd practically have the thing working by now.
    • Isn't that just...sad. We could have fusion by now. Or alteast several dozen gigantic fusion experiments.
    • by jfengel (409917)
      It's not so obvious when you consider that the project isn't a guaranteed success, and even if it is successful returns on it will take decades.

      But most of the time was spent negotiating how and where that money will be spent. The money doesn't just evaporate; it ends up providing jobs to somebody's economy. ITER will be built in France, and so many construction jobs will go to the French. The rest of the countries aren't going to just dump a billion dollars per year into the French (or any other) economy w
  • by Dr. Zowie (109983) <slashdot@nospAm.deforest.org> on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:34PM (#16937288)
    I worked at D3D 'way back in the 1980s, when people thought breakeven would be achieved before the turn of the millennium. If as much effort were put into electrostatic confinement (the Farnsworth fusor we keep hearing so much about) that might have actually happened. The advantage of the Farnsworth fusor is that it uses a confinement field with a divergence term!

    The magnetic field has no divergence (there are no magnetic monopoles) so it is extremely difficult to confine anything -- you can only slow down the leakage. That comes with some problems -- for example, it's very hard to get anything into or out of a magnetic bottle (as in a Tokamak) unless it is electrically neutral. Accelerating and heating the plasma are hard because the energy sources you can use (manipulation of the magnetic field itself, either at radiofrequency (RF heating) or near DC (betatron heating), themselves destabilize the confinement.

    D3D used the innovation of firing neutral atoms in through the magnetic bottle, which provides material and heat into the plasma (the atoms generally ionize once they get in -- and then they're trapped like the rest of the plasma). The problem there is that we have no technology to accelerate neutral particles -- so they had these little tiny particle accelerators that fired their beams through GIANT TANKS of reactant that was intended to neutralize the input beams on-the-fly. Some small percentage of the particles got neutralized, and the rest bounced off the outside of the magnetic bottle into a beam dump. Seeing the size of the equipment made me realize that tokamak fusion is probably a dead end for power generation -- if it can be made to work at all (in the sense of achieving, say, 10x heat gain), the ancillary equipment is HUGE and it's not at all clear that economies of scale are enough to make it worthwhile.

    The Farnsworth-Hirsch type fusors have the advantage that you can fire in charged particles -- they rattle around and lose some of their kinetic energy, and after that they're trapped in a normal potential well. Like muon-catalyzed fusion machines, the Farnsworth fusor is in a race to get the energy out of a fusible nucleus before it leaks away -- but fresh hydrogen or deuterium ions are much, much cheaper than muons, and it seems to have a better chance of working.

    (Remember muon-catalyzed fusion? Muons act like electrons, only more massive -- so atoms that have an electron replaced with a muon get smaller [it's a quantum thing], bringing the nuclei closer together and boosting the fusion rate. You can get a pretty high fusion rate (a few fusions per muon per microsecond) at close to room temperature in pretty tame materials. The problem is that muons only last about two microseconds before decaying into energy, neutrinos, and electrons -- so you have to make several hundred fusions per microsecond, to make the energy worth the effort of making a muon in the first place. Nobody was able to make it pay off.)

    • Thanks for the interesting summary. Your time is appreciated!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Phanatic1a (413374)
      And the disadvantage of Farnsworth-Hirsch type fusors is that it's not possible to use them as an energy source.

      [harvard.edu]

      Two main categories of nonequilibrium plasmas are considered: (1) systems in which the electrons and/or fuel ions possess a significantly non-Maxwellian velocity distribution, and (2) systems in which at least two particle species, such as electrons and ions or two different species of fuel ions, are at radically different mean energies. These types of plasmas would be of particular interest for

    • by tucara (812321) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @04:27PM (#16938394)
      IAFS (I am a fusion scientist) Your comments about the size of the heating equipment is ill posed. If we put a coal mine next to the coal furnace then apparently it wouldn't work either? It does, currently, take a substantial amount of hardware and external power to heat a tokamak plasma, but that is by design. None of the current experiments were designed to be self-sustaining, which is the main focus of the ITER experiment. The power density of a fusion reaction is not easy to comprehend when you're used to burning wood/oil/coal, but a small increases in plasma volume can mean large absolute gains in output power that offset such "HUGE" equipment. Your claim that heating and current drive techniques destablize the plasma is just plain wrong and I don't know where you're getting this. The H-mode or enhanced confinement regime is accessible at higher input powers (when you put more power in, you use it more efficiently) and has been achieved using RF heating alone on serveral tokamks.

      Lastly, your love of the Farnsworth fusor as a power device is odd. Electrostatic conefinement devices cannot achieve the power densities necessary to be a commercial power source (several GW). If you look at current experiments (http://fti.neep.wisc.edu/iec/ftisite1.htm [wisc.edu]) the applications are many and important, but none are commercial power. I like these devices but mainly because their simplicity allows them to be portable.

      The tokamak is not without its problems (alpha-ash, exhaust heat flux, steady-state operations), but it also has no competitors when you look at the absolute plasma pressures achieved. Overall, people should still realize that ITER is an experiment and not a demo reactor. While there is confidence that ITER can be run at it's target Q=10 (10 times more fusion power than input), this is formed from scaling previous experiments and needs to be verified.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by netwiz (33291)
        What are your thoughts on Dense Plasma Focus devices? Eric Lerner's device seems feasible, save the complex electrical gear to drive the discharge into the reactants. The collapsing magnetic field acheives the inequilibrium needed to prevent most of the electron heating losses in the plasma, resulting in a significantly increased reaction rate.
    • by tweakt (325224) *
      Some very interesting content on this subject in a recent Google Tech Talk.

      It's a very technical but interesting talk about these alternate and simpler approaches to fusion confinement. I'm interested if some knowledgeable people could comment on his ideas and designs. He sounds like he's got something. What he explains about politics around funding of the project sounds pretty typical of the government.

      Link (Google Video):
      http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1996321846 673788606&q=Google+nuclear [google.com]
  • As the decades pass, new students pick up fusion, and old students give up on it, it's starting to feel like the way nature achieves fusion is the only way it can be done. The only way to get energy from fusion is to have a blob of gas so massive it's gravity compresses the hot gas enough to fuse it.

    • by cnettel (836611)
      Are you saying that we don't get energy out of the H bomb? Or do you state that it's inherently fram from breakeven? I mean, you could envision just creating enormous amounts of steam or something, by successive detonations. It wouldn't be practical, but I don't think thermodynamics will bite you.
  • Why not rush it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShooterNeo (555040) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @03:49PM (#16937608)
    Why is fusion receiving such a tiny (relatively speaking) amount of funding? Why is the Western world not rushing the project. At a risk of sounding cliched, it seems to me that if the 300-500 billion thus far spent on the Iraq war had gone into fusion research, we could have 10-20 different experimental approaches (essentially, trying all the major possible reactor designs) and commercial reactors in a few years.

    Not to mention the obvious superiority of spending billions educating the horde of scientists and engineers and computer programmers and managers and other technical workers that would need to be trained for a big project like this. Instead, we spend that money training young men and women how to fight and perform military tasks. The thousands of technical workers that would be produced from an all-out effort for fusion would be extremely useful in achieving the next level of technological breakthroughs.

    War damaged soldiers come home, often with permanent injuries, and may never reach their potential. I am in the Army National guard, and I've seen it happen time and time again. Surprisingly few people take advantage of their GI Bill to actually finish a degree.

    Oh, and the middle east would be irrelevant. Without money from oil, they would be unable to buy advanced weapons or commit international terrorism, and would basically be another degenerate culture like most of Africa. Sure, they'd kill each other : but we would be able to safely stand back and occasionally drop in food to the refuge camps.
    • by lawpoop (604919)
      "Oh, and the middle east would be irrelevant. Without money from oil, they would be unable to buy advanced weapons or commit international terrorism, and would basically be another degenerate culture like most of Africa. Sure, they'd kill each other : but we would be able to safely stand back and occasionally drop in food to the refuge camps."

      No, what would happen is that countries who can't afford to develop or buy fusion reactors would simply buy more oil, which would then be cheaper on account of the de
    • Why is the Western world not rushing the project.


      Dude, you can't rush wonders... even if you could, it's a large project and would probably cost the lives of 4 citizens....
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by meringuoid (568297)
        Dude, you can't rush wonders...

        Dude, we should have been stockpiling Caravans throughout the 1990s for just this eventuality.

    • by zoftie (195518)
      The answer is mandate and what most of the public, percieves is pertinent to now. Huge science programs are prone to failure under-runs and government mismanagement. Wars tend to generate proper concensus, and predictable results. We go to war and government buys alot of ammo. Large amounts of cash infused into economy. Everyone goes out and buys an ipod, a playstaiton 3 whatever. Everyone is sort of happy. Remeber, that article about google going "nukular", well that research funding was cut, and redirecte
  • by Phanatic1a (413374) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @04:07PM (#16937982)
    ITER gets a lot of press, but there's an equally large obstacle to commercial fusion that it doesn't even address: the materials issues.

    A commercial fusion plant is going to produce a tremendous neutron flux, orders of magnitude greater than that seen in modern fission plants. So many neutrons will be produced that every single atom in the reactor vessel is can be expected to be struck and displaced several hundred times over a 30-year life cycle, and you're actually going to get a small number of nuclear reactions that will produce minute hydrogen and helium bubbles at lattice boundaries. There are no known suitable materials that can handle that kind of neutron exposure without swelling, cracking, degrading, becoming extremely brittle, and so forth. This would be Bad.

    ITER isn't going to generate the kinds of neutron flux you'd need to even explore those issues. ITER's going to generate about 3 displacements per atom, not 300. There is another facility, IFMIF, intended to research this by generating similar neutron fluxes to what you'd see in a real fusion reactor, but it's only at the design stages right now, and won't come on line for long after ITER does.

    Getting the fusion right is only part of the problem, and it's possibly the easier part. It's an engineering problem. But the materials issue might not be solvable, because the right materials might just not exist.

    Folks, there are huge amounts of uranium and thorium around, and we do not have time to wait until we figure out fusion to stop dumping carbon into the atmosphere. By the time we even come close to exhausting our sources of fissile fuel, we should have learned how to construct large-scale orbital structures, and once we can do that we won't even *need* fusion. It's entirely possible that commercial fusion will never happen.
  • Guess that Steorn [wikipedia.org] thing didn't pan out, eh?
  • Michigan teenager Thiago Olson just built the world's 18th non-professional - but functioning - fusion reactor in his basement:
    http://www.freemarketnews.com/WorldNews.asp?nid=27 082 [freemarketnews.com]

    Fusor technology. Somewhat different approach to ITER, and wildly different in the amount of funding it attracts.

    Vik :v)
  • I doubt that the 2040 "demonstration power plant" mentioned in the article equates to a "commercial reactor". Since ITER will produce heat but no electricity, and will be smaller than a commercial scale system by a factor of 10 to 20, the demonstration power plant will presumably be *prototype* of an electricity producing plant, but not a full-scale commercial system. Commercial availability would be years after that.

    The economics of fusion power are, unfortunately, quite depressing. There was a short ar

  • http://www.iter.org/a/index_nav_6.htm [iter.org] They've got some speeches here for anyone interested.

    And from http://www.iter.org/I.htm [iter.org]

    ITER - "The way" in Latin. Formerly interpreted to stand for International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, although this usage has been discontinued.

  • New Math? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by martyb (196687) on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @04:30PM (#16938478)
    FTFA:
    The EU will pay 50 per cent of the cost to build the experimental reactor, with the six other parties contributing 10 per cent each.

    That works out to 110% of the cost -- let's hope their science is better than the [reporter's] math!

  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Tuesday November 21, 2006 @05:21PM (#16939456) Homepage Journal
    starting in 2008.'" If ITER is successful, a commercial reactor could be built by 2040.
    Funny, I seem to remember fusion researchers from Livermore in the 70s say that commercial power was 20 years away...

    Through the miracle of arithmetic we see can extrapolate this trend to see that commercial fusion power was available in 1920 when it was undoubtedly captured by a Henry Ford and with assistance from proto-Nazis, kept it secret from the rest of the world in a Peruvian cave where they run their UFO base to this day.

    With Y being the years from now the geniuses predict commercial fusion energy and X being the year of the prediction:

    deltaY=((2040-2008)-20)=12
    deltaX=(2008-1975)=33
    slope=12/33=0.363636
    Y=20+slope*(X-1975)
    X-1975=(Y-20)/slope
    X=(Y-20)/slope+1975
    Setting Y=0
    X=(0-20)/0.363636+1975
    X=1920

    So we see that commercial fusion power was available about the time spherical electrostatic confinement was first conceived of by Irving Langmuir, Katherine B. Blodgett: Physics Review, 23, pp49-59, 1924; "Currents limited by space charge between concentric spheres", which was the last time there was any leak about the existence of commercial fusion power once Henry Ford and the proto-Nazis impounded the technology.

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