# Has power from fusion gone up by 14 orders of magnitude?

by JesseM
Tags: fusion, magnitude, orders, power
P: 8,430
In this post on the blog of Harvard string theorist Lubos Motl, he writes:
 The understanding of the relevant plasma physics has improved significantly in the last few years or decades - for example since the moment when Jimmy Carter started to fund this research by big money. The energy that the people are able to create by fusion has jumped by 14 orders of magnitude - well above the 6 orders of magnitude how much the computers became stronger in the same period of time. The power generated using the current devices is roughly 1 or 2 orders of magnitudes away from the goal - from profitable power plants. Well, one must also be able to stabilize the plasma for slightly longer time intervals than what can be done today, but it seems that they're getting pretty close in this respect, too.
Is it true that the power generated from fusion has increased by 14 orders of magnitude since the seventies, and that they're only a few orders of magnitude away from the goal? If so, does his last sentence suggest there would still be some major hurdles even if they were able to reach the goal in terms of the amount of power generated?
P: 1,130
 Quote by JesseM In this post on the blog of Harvard string theorist Lubos Motl, he writes: Is it true that the power generated from fusion has increased by 14 orders of magnitude since the seventies, and that they're only a few orders of magnitude away from the goal? If so, does his last sentence suggest there would still be some major hurdles even if they were able to reach the goal in terms of the amount of power generated?
Jesse,

Yes - but that just means we started out a long way away from the goal.

When Moti states that we are 2 orders of magnitude away from having
fusion - that means a factor of 100 [ 10 to the power of 2 ].

So you need to improve the confinement of plasma by a factor of 100
before you get any where near being able to produce net power.

Imagine how much work you have to do to improve something by a
factor of 100 - it's not insignificant.

The fact that we've improved by 14 orders of magnitude shows you
just how short the first attempts at producing fusion were.

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist
 Sci Advisor P: 8,430 Has progress through the other 14 orders of magnitude been fairly steady, as with "Moore's Law" for computers? Or has it been more a matter of breakthroughs at random intervals?
P: 1,130

## Has power from fusion gone up by 14 orders of magnitude?

 Quote by JesseM Has progress through the other 14 orders of magnitude been fairly steady, as with "Moore's Law" for computers? Or has it been more a matter of breakthroughs at random intervals?
Jesse,

I'd say it was more along the line of breakthroughs.

There were early machines that were tori [ doughnuts ] with temporally
constant magnetic fields. Such machines won't support a steady-state
plasma - the fact that the magnetic field is more intense on the inside
of the torus lead to drift and instability.

Then there were "stellarators" - a non-planar figure 8 to address that
problem.

Then came tokamaks in which the magnetic field is ramped up to
provide stability.

It was not really a steady evolutionary process - each step required
a "breakthrough".

Dr. Gregory Greenman
Physicist

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