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ITER lives at the WEC

  1. Sep 15, 2010 #1
    I got an opportunity to attend part of the World Energy Congress (going on presently), and found it interesting to find that among the presentation booths for major energy suppliers (including major fortune 500 oil companies, fission reactor manufacturers, grid services, solar, wind etc. and talks by CEO's of these companies), there was one for the ITER tokamak. I don't follow much plasma physics lately, but it's interesting to see these guys are serious to the point of playing along the conventional suppliers, and not just within the nuclear community.

    First plasma predicted for 2018. Goal is 500MW from 50MW, for 5 minutes straight.

    Do you believe this goal will be acheived? What's your view on the project's chances of success?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 15, 2010 #2
    ¿What can not the human being do? Just a question of time...
  4. Sep 15, 2010 #3


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    I think it is possible. If it plainly wasn't possible at all, then the thousands upon thousands of scientists, technicians, and other people wouldnt be trying. Even if its not possible NOW, they must have some reason to believe that they are going to be successful in the future. We'll just have to wait and see.
  5. Sep 15, 2010 #4
    Fluid dynamics is complicated, and now make it a fluid of charged particles to give it strong internal interactions and it gets even worse.

    ITER represents, in my mind, the most "straightforward" approach to fusion. Basically, steady-state fusion. These have been extensively studied. It is, in an oversimplifying sense, just a matter of scale of engineering at this point. So yes, I consider claims of them eventually getting net return quite believable. I'll hope for this huge milestone before contemplating on the 10x's return you mentioned above.

    I also consider it mildly possible that a smaller budget "pulsed" / non-steady state system could break the net-return barrier first. There are a couple companies trying, but most aren't sharing much information. The most likely of these in my opinion, if one actually does succeed, would be http://www.generalfusion.com/ . They are approaching everything quite methodically, and already have a scaled down version that succeeded in demonstrating fusion. So in some sense, they too are trying to scale up the size. Many other net-power fusion attempts going on right now don't seem as plausible to me, because they are instead trying to "improve efficiency" of the actual process instead of trying to size scale up an existing/demonstrated one to the point of net power (some things just don't allow scaling of size to improve efficiency -- for example FocusFusion's attempt).
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