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

  1. JesseM

    JesseM 8,491
    Science Advisor

    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?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Morbius

    Morbius 1,160
    Science Advisor

    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
     
  4. JesseM

    JesseM 8,491
    Science Advisor

    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?
     
  5. Morbius

    Morbius 1,160
    Science Advisor

    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
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thead via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Similar discussions for: Has power from fusion gone up by 14 orders of magnitude?
Loading...