Fusion power technology is coming


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/01/04/fusion-power-technology-is-com.html


#2

but recent fusion reactor breakthroughs seem to indicate that the world will soon have an abundant supply of cheap, clean energy.

Let me guess, the technology is about 10-15 years away? (checks article) Yup, seems about right.


#3

Competition is about to really heat up if replication of recent fusion experiments pan out.


#4

what exactly is “fusion”


#5

I really hope so, but I’ve been hearing this kinda stuff for decades. I’ll wait to get excited until there is an actual reactor out there with sustained net-positive energy output.


#6

I can hope. But I am old enough to be skeptical. And even if we can get it to work, it remains to be seen what the life-cycle costs are.


#7

In 2014 Lockheed Martin made some similarly bold claims about their fusion reactor project, at that time they said they’d have a working reactor within ten years.

I truly do want to believe we’re on the cusp of an energy breakthrough, and there are a lot of non-cranks working on this with great seriousness, but I’ll ration my enthusiasm until we see a working generator.


#8

hqdefault


#9

Not sure if serious, but it’s the nuclear reaction that powers the sun.

Current nuclear power plants use fission, in which atoms are split, releasing energy.

In fusion, atoms are fused together to release energy.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_fusion


#10

The nuclear reactors we have nowadays work by taking heavy elements and splitting them, which releases a lot of energy. This is called “fission”.

Fusion is the opposite, taking light elements and merging them (the usual idea being taking two hydrogen atoms and making a helium out of them). This too releases a butt-tonne of energy, but also has the side benefit of causing no nuclear waste and being done with the most common element in the universe.

(edit: unless your question was a joke that went over my head)


#11

Yep, about what it’s been for the last 50 years.


#12

my favourite fusion co. (for all that’s worth :slight_smile: )


#13

See also: “the check is in the mail”, “you’re going to feel a small pinch”, and “America is a meritocracy”.


#14

I’m going to dispute your claim of no nuclear waste, since neutron flux is a thing and makes anything that relies on H-H (or H-D, or H-T, or any other isotope if hydrogen) fusion likely to have severe structural issues due to neutron embrittlement. Sure, it beats the current fission byproduct storage problem, but it’s still an issue with non-helium fusion.


#15

And just think of all the party balloons we could fill with the Helium we made!


#16

The only fusion power that works is up in the sky.


#17

You could say they’re shooting for the stars on this one.


#18

No, it wasn’t a joke. I’m not a physicist. I guess I should have repeated jokes I don’t understand about it continually being 10 years away as is the custom, but instead decided to take the opprotunity to learn more since we have a lot of smart people in the comments :slight_smile:

So basically are they smashing satom together, like in a particle accelerator? What’s the problem - they’re creating explosions but not capturing the energy?

The article mentions that it’s “just engineering” to do fusion, but the skeptic in me thinks that’s like someone saying us, say, building a space elevator is “just engineering”.


#19

Fusion power. Uh huh.

Flying cars. Jet packs. Paperless offices. Hydrogen fuel vehicles. Safe electronic voting. Anti-hangover pills. Software so intuitive it doesn’t need a help system. Wind and solar power systems with no downside. Any day now.

Yeah. Sure. Riiiiiight.


#20

You beat me to it - it’s been ten years away my entire life.