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Is the use of materials to confine nuclear fusion ruled out?

  1. Dec 2, 2016 #1
    Usually people talk about magnetic confinement schemes or some such thing for fusion reactions presumably because the pressure and temperatures would vaporize/destroy all conceived material vessels too quickly. I would like to hear someone talk about the limits of materials in this realm. So, for example what pressures would a 3 inch diameter ball of high grade steel surrounding a 1 mm cavity withstand? how about 6 feet diameter of surrounding steel? The material close to the cavity would definitely vaporize due to temperature but that does not mean the rest of the shell will if everything is done quickly.

    The thinking would be to increase the temperature and pressure of the fuel very rapidly before the material casing would be destroyed. This could be done electromagnetically maybe if steel were replaced with some other very strong material that is not a good conductor and the fuel is made to be conductive (think induction/eddy currents). Any thoughts on this subject are appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 2, 2016 #2


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    The evaporating material cools down the plasma way too fast, and there is no way to avoid this. Every material that would help in containing the plasma also would cool it down way too much.

    Pressure is no problem. Fusion plasma is often below atmospheric pressure, and the record is just twice the atmospheric pressure.
  4. Dec 3, 2016 #3


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    ....and you would want the fusion to be continuous so you could harness it.
  5. Dec 3, 2016 #4


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    Not necessarily, many fast pulses would also work if there would be a good way to generate them.
  6. Dec 3, 2016 #5
    Thanks for the responses. I bet conduction away by materials is the problem, among others.

    Vaporization of the material on the inside of the cavity would spike the pressure... I would think this would keep the temperature up but 30 million deg kelvin may be too high a bar.
  7. Dec 8, 2016 #6
    The problem is that even a very small amount of impurities can severely damage the plasma. That's a big reason why fusion plasma's require such high vaccums.
  8. Dec 8, 2016 #7
    To: Imarobot

    What you're proposing (sort of) was studied in Project PACER, initiated at Livermore in the 1960's.

    PACER called for exploding small thermonuclear explosives (H-bombs) in caves or steel vessels.

    The concept has been studied sporadically in the last few decades. See Wikipedia.
  9. Dec 19, 2016 #8
    That's apparently how LPP Fusions's process works.
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