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Power Science Technology

If Fusion Is the Answer, We Need To Do It Quickly 305

Lasrick writes: Yale's Jason Parisi makes a compelling case for fusion power, and explains why fusion is cleaner, safer, and doesn't provide opportunities for nuclear smuggling and proliferation. The only downside will be the transition period, when there are both fission and fusion plants available and the small amount of "booster" elements (tritium and deuterium) found in fusion power could provide would-be proliferators what they need to boost the yield of fission bombs: "The period during which both fission and fusion plants coexist could be dangerous, however. Just a few grams of deuterium and tritium are needed to increase the yield of a fission bomb, in a process known as 'boosting.'" Details about current research into fusion power and an exploration of relative costs make fusion power seem like the answer to a civilization trying to get away from fossil fuels.
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If Fusion Is the Answer, We Need To Do It Quickly

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  • Ready in 30 years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:04PM (#47707767)

    As it always has, and likely always will be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:04PM (#47707769)

    Confusion is correct. This guys damn confused. I'd love to have the problem hes talking about as that would mean that we actually have working fusion reactors. Wake me from my grave when we have one actual working power producing fusion reactor (I'm in my early 30s).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:07PM (#47707787)
    What you've missed about fusion technology could fill a journal. Maybe even more than one.
  • Re:Who needs oil? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:19PM (#47707849) Homepage Journal

    Fusion would break the stranglehold of petro-exporting countries in the Middle East as well as belligerent exporters like Russia and Iran.

    Then? The Banking vampire elite will need to generate new, ethnically-rationalized hate-conflict to keep us all at each other's throats - instead of removing their boot from our collective face.

  • Re:Who needs oil? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by prisoner-of-enigma ( 535770 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:36PM (#47707961) Homepage

    Why would they need to create a new hate conflict? There's plenty of that to go around as is. Arab vs. Jew, black vs. white, East vs.'s not like conflict wasn't around before banking cartels, you know.

  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:39PM (#47707993)

    As it always has, and likely always will be.

    I don't think you are correct. Fusion seems to be quite doable to me. Right now we have some issues with materials and reactor designs, but the basic physics are in place and understood. I think we are closer than 30 years myself.

    Of all the things we spend money on, the national ignition facility seems to be one of the best scientific investments we can make and IMHO we should redouble our investments in similar research equipment.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:53PM (#47708067) Homepage Journal

    The government does 10's of thousands of project a year. ON time, within budget with little waste.

    the ITER is using extremely cutting edge experimental reactor. Of course there are unknowns.

  • by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @07:54PM (#47708075)

    Fusion power research is being funded at least $20 billion/year worldwide, and has been for over 20 years. If you can point to some concrete areas where more cash would help?


  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @08:03PM (#47708147)

    Look at ITER: $20B and rising, it will only make 500 MW(th) -- six times less thermal energy than a 1 GW(e) fission reactor -- and it doesn't even include the advanced materials needed to withstand commercial reactor levels of integrated neutron flux.

    Well, that's ITER's point now isn't it? We know what is required to make fusion work, we just don't know how long we can sustain a reaction because we do not understand how the large neutron flux will affect the materials in the container and we still have difficulties maintaining the containment. It's an engineering problem now, not something that is clearly impossible.

    IMHO, investments in such experiments should be expanded, by both government and industry. Just like getting a man on the moon, We need a JFK'esk commitment to making this work.

  • So badly misguided (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @08:20PM (#47708299) Homepage

    That has to be one of the most misguided ideas I've ever seen...

    Worry about using deuterium and tritium being used to boost the output of a fission weapon is like worrying about whether a heavily armed maniac's getaway car can do 120mph rather than 115mph. The basic problem isn't the speed of the get away car. If a proliferator can get their hands on sufficient U235 or Pu in the first place, they're 99.99996% of the way towards their goal - the extra .00003 provided by the availability of deuterium and tritium is all but meaningless because when it comes to proliferators it's the mere fact that they have a weapon in the first place that's the problem. That they can now build two or more, or increase the yield of a single weapon simply doesn't count for much when even a low kiloton range weapon is sufficient for their needs. (Which is deterrence generally, or failing that attacks against non military area targets. They aren't trying to crack open Cheyenne Mountain.)

  • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @08:56PM (#47708535)
    I find it hilarious that the supposed downside of having a future-proof source of energy is that on the unlikely occasion that a terrorist group gets their hand on plutonium, the resulting threat is going to be in the 50kt class instead of 20kt. Any larger entity most likely wouldn't have a problem with generating it for themselves anyway.
  • by rogoshen1 ( 2922505 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @08:56PM (#47708537)

    isn't that an h-bomb?

  • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @10:19PM (#47708995)

    We do have a functioning fusion reactor. It has about four and a half billion years left worth of fuel. It pours more energy into the earth alone than a hundred civilizations could use, to say nothing of the untapped energy it pours elsewhere.

  • by NoKaOi ( 1415755 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @10:50PM (#47709149)

    Perhaps if Fusion is the answer, then the question is "What should we be spending money on developing?"

    Which makes more sense:
    1. Spend a trillion or so dollars (it's been about $400Billion so far, and rising) on the F-35, which won't be viable for a long time but has already been making a few rich people richer. Money comes from taxpayers, and it's the ultra-wealthy who directly benefit from the contracts who get richer. In reality our actual military power is unchanged.

    2. Spend that money instead on R&D for fusion (spend a bit of it on battery research too for electric cars/trucks). The US saves $380Billion per year on oil imports. The economy and thus quality of life for everyone improves. The rich still get richer because manufacturing and transportation costs have been reduced. F-16's, F-18's, etc and UAV's continue to give us military superiority.

  • by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <joham999@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @10:58PM (#47709197) []

    Pretty much covers it, even with the speculative forecasting. The money put into it is equivalent to throwing the spare change you have in your car's ashtray toward a new car fund every year.

  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @06:11AM (#47710737) Journal

    $22bn is only 0.03 Iraq Wars, so it's really not that much money in the grand scheme of things.

  • by 50000BTU_barbecue ( 588132 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @01:28PM (#47713555) Journal

    Could you read that again, please? How is there an average in there? Also, he mixed up density, temperature and energy density without blinking.

    I'm not impressed.

The absent ones are always at fault.