Fusion power generation: percentage of neutrons expected to be caught?

In summary: Overall, the efficiency of neutron capture is crucial for the success and viability of fusion power and there are many studies being conducted to improve and optimize this aspect of the process. In summary, the efficiency of fusion power heavily relies on the capture of neutrons for energy extraction and breeding of tritium, and there are ongoing efforts to improve and optimize this aspect in order to maximize the output of fusion power plants.
  • #1
John Plant
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TL;DR Summary
What is the expected or realistic percentage of neutrons that will be caught to extract energy from a fusion reaction?
Surely the real efficiency of Fusion power is the percentage of neutrons that can be caught to extract kinetic energy from. I am assuming it is the neutron that is carrying the nuclear energy that can be recovered from the fusion reaction.
Now I'm pretty sure neutrons cannot be focused, so the capture of these neutrons in a 'neutron capture blanket'(for want of a better term) will have to be absolutely complete, totally surround the fusion reactor and be thick enough so that no percentage of neutrons get away.
I can't say I have ever read any discussion about this loss of efficiency.
 
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  • #2
In D-T fusion, about 80% of the energy is in the 14.1 MeV neutron, and about 20% in the alpha particle. The blanket surrounding the fusion reactor needs to capture most of these neutrons for two reasons. First, you want to capture the neutron energy, and second, these neutrons are used to breed more tritium to fuel the reaction. The second requirement is the more demanding. Capturing the neutron energy is easier - the energy of the neutron will flow into the coolant surrounding the reactor even if the neutron ends up in the support structure, but in this case it will not be useful for breeding tritium.

There are many studies of the efficiency of the neutron capture. A Google search should turn up more studies than you can read.

It's not true that the capture needs to be 'absolutely complete', it is just one term in the efficiency of the reactor. From an energy generation standpoint, to generate electrical energy requires going through a heat engine with a thermodynamic efficiency of 40% at best, so losing a small percentage of the neutrons is not a big problem.
 
  • #3


I agree with you, the efficiency of fusion power is highly dependent on the percentage of neutrons that can be captured and utilized for energy extraction. Neutrons are indeed the carriers of nuclear energy in a fusion reaction, and their capture is crucial for the overall efficiency of the process.

You make a good point about the challenges of capturing neutrons, as they cannot be focused like other forms of energy. A neutron capture blanket, as you mentioned, would need to completely surround the fusion reactor and be thick enough to prevent any neutrons from escaping. This is definitely an important factor that needs to be considered in the design and operation of fusion power plants.

I also haven't come across any discussions about the potential loss of efficiency due to neutrons escaping, but it's certainly something that should be addressed and optimized for in order to maximize the output of fusion power. Thank you for bringing this up and starting a conversation about it.
 

Related to Fusion power generation: percentage of neutrons expected to be caught?

1. What is fusion power generation?

Fusion power generation is a process in which energy is produced by combining two or more atomic nuclei to form a heavier nucleus. This process releases a large amount of energy, similar to the energy produced by the sun.

2. How is fusion power generation different from traditional power generation methods?

Fusion power generation differs from traditional power generation methods, such as nuclear fission, in that it does not produce radioactive waste or greenhouse gas emissions. It also has the potential to provide a nearly limitless source of energy.

3. What percentage of neutrons are expected to be caught in the fusion process?

The percentage of neutrons expected to be caught in the fusion process varies depending on the specific fusion reaction being used. Generally, the percentage is around 80-90%, but this can vary based on the type of fuel and the design of the fusion reactor.

4. What challenges are there in achieving successful fusion power generation?

One of the main challenges in achieving successful fusion power generation is creating and maintaining the extreme temperatures and pressures necessary for fusion to occur. Additionally, containing and controlling the superheated plasma is a major technical challenge.

5. What are the potential benefits of fusion power generation?

The potential benefits of fusion power generation include a nearly limitless source of clean energy, reduced dependence on fossil fuels, and a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. It also has the potential to provide a more stable and reliable energy source compared to other renewable energy sources.

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