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laser and fusion power




ninja_tux

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A nice read for sure. I love the potential fusion power production has; and with lasers? All the better ;) But I must admit I am more confident in the feasibility of magnetic confinement fusion systems, such as that being developed at ITER, read: ITER - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

Benm

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I dont think anyone is seriously considering using lasers for ignition in any commercial fusion venture. Very good work on magnetic confinement is carried out here in europe with the development of ITER and possibly its production spin off DEMO.

Laser fired experiments like those done with the NIF will provide very important information, but are not intended to convert to a production environment.

With things as they are, fusion power will still be a couple of decades away, as it as always been, and real world power generation is done using fission. The fission marked is still developig though, tapping into resources like thorium fuel instead of uranium, expanding usable reserves greatly.
 

StridAst

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Well, Lasers as an ignition source are definitely possible for testing, Magnetic confinement offers MUCH better benifits. i.e. potential sustained reactions. the ITER project is projecting something like 15 min of sustained on time with reactions constantly producing more power then consumed. The NIF project, using lasers instead, is projecting pulses as long as what, nanoseconds? Also the ITER project is a stepping stone on the road to real fusion power, where as the NIF project can create a max of 4 pulses per day, as the lasers need to cool down for several hours before being turned on again, thermal expansion's not particularly good for optics and perfect alignment. Granted there are downsides to tokamak designs as well. Such as much more damage from any sort of emp or geomagnetic storm. It would suck to be working at a tokamak reactor with a seriously strong GMS starting. full containment loss on actively fusing plasma = epic fail. not a bomb, but it would destroy the reactor, on a positive note, we have an 18-72 hour warning before a GMS starts, which is more then enough time to power a reactor down, it's still not a good thing to have to shut down a reactor every time the sun hiccups.....
 

ossumguywill

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^good point about EMPs. I imagine, however, that it would be self-powered and faraday shielded. At least, I would hope so. And I think that fission power is going to get more popular, if we can find effective ways of cheaply disposing of fuel. I was reading about this guy that designed a "space gun" or something that could launch projectiles cannon-style into space for a lot cheaper than what it costs to send it on a rocket. And hell, if you got it near the sun the heat would make it non-radioactive, right?
 

Cyparagon

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if you got it near the sun the heat would make it non-radioactive, right?

Ask the citizens of Hiroshima if extreme heat was enough to render radioactive material inert.

Laser fired experiments like those done with the NIF will provide very important information, but are not intended to convert to a production environment.

Most expensive and intricate power plant... EVAR
 

StridAst

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^good point about EMPs. I imagine, however, that it would be self-powered and faraday shielded. At least, I would hope so.

Good point, Although it would be a pain to shield an entire reactor building. You would need sheet metal to properly shield it. As the holes in a faraday cage have to be smaller then the wavelengths they are blocking, And to properly shield from modern emp weapons which are emitting in the low microwave range, you would need holes as small, or smaller, then the mesh in the door of a microwave. And to plan against future developments developments that could put the pulse ranges into IR or smaller, you would need more or less sheet metal, as well as non metallic pipes for the steam to leave the faraday cage. (or else ground the metal pipes to the cage, but that might cause complications) Either way, possible but a pain to do. I wonder if people will be smart enough to do so, or if we will have the first fusion reactor go Chernobyl with a GMS or a targeted EMP terrorist attack of some sort.
As a side note, but interesting. Most of the heat from fusion is in the form of fast moving free neutrons. And while the reactor has no uranium, neutron bombardment DOES tend to make things nice and hot, in a "rad" sort of way..... After a while of being on, even a fusion reactor core of any sort would become rather hot for some time. So an explosion of one would still be an ecological disaster of severe proportions.

Ah the downsides. Why can't anything in this world just be only positive for a change...
 

ossumguywill

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Ask the citizens of Hiroshima if extreme heat was enough to render radioactive material inert.

That's different. First off, the fallout of an old-school nuclear bomb is much different than the waste material from a reactor. Second, exposing something to very intense heat for a very long period of time is different than exposing it to a large explosion. The results are different. I was just reading in popsci something about nuclear material could be deactivated by heat.
 

Setarip

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Fusion obviously has its merits, but in reality we are a ways off from having it at the level we need. As for disposing nuclear waste, making wast inert in space would be completely wasted effort! Why? Because there is far worse radiation in space! we are not messing up any environment in space if we just simply send waste on it merry way. Also, you might want to check out Intellectual Ventures - TerraPower
And their traveling-wave reactors. An interesting way to use the U-238 that as of right now is considered waste. Good thing we didnt send it off to space! The US's current reserve is estimated to be able to power us for 2 centuries if this technology works!!!
 

ossumguywill

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Fusion obviously has its merits, but in reality we are a ways off from having it at the level we need. As for disposing nuclear waste, making wast inert in space would be completely wasted effort! Why? Because there is far worse radiation in space! we are not messing up any environment in space if we just simply send waste on it merry way. Also, you might want to check out Intellectual Ventures - TerraPower
And their traveling-wave reactors. An interesting way to use the U-238 that as of right now is considered waste. Good thing we didnt send it off to space! The US's current reserve is estimated to be able to power us for 2 centuries if this technology works!!!

reading now-
sounds cool

will

EDIT:awesome! They can fill the reactor with waste uranium and it will generate energy for 60 years, at which point they simply build a new one! And it looks like it makes the fuel inert...
 
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Benm

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I was just reading in popsci something about nuclear material could be deactivated by heat.

This sounds very unlikely - temperature doesnt normally affect the rate of decay at all.

The only sort-of-viable way to make long lasting isotopes decay faster is neutron bombardment, actually converting long living isotopes into shorter lived ones. This is not a preferred method of disposal though. Since the volumes produced by nuclear power plants are relatively small, long term storage is a viable and safe option.

Being able to burn U238 would greatly increase fuel reservers, but so does using thorium, which is viable in certain reactor types (especially the canadian heavy water moderated design).
 

Cyparagon

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Terra power reactors still generate waste, but they use more of the fuel and generate less waste.
I was just reading in popsci something about nuclear material could be deactivated by heat.

The atomic weight and number determine radioactivity which is governed by the weak force. Heat doesn't change those.
 

StridAst

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Actually. Heat COULD deactivate radiation. but you would need enough heat to literally decompose the atomic nuclei themselves... Quark-gluon plasma anyone? Granted I don't think attempting to dump the atoms into a particle accelerator, one at a time, is going to quite cut it as a means of deactivating radioactive waste. Not to mention the resulting collisions and mass particle bombardment would probably simply create MORE radiation.... but I had to have some fun here
 

Benm

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Thats another level of heat entirely ;)

It's safe to state that temperature has no effect on nuclear decay whatsoever, at least not within the range of the coldest temperature achievable (which does not impede decay at all) and the hottest you could practically heat something.
 




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