Next generation power reactors

  • Thread starter Tyro
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Main Question or Discussion Point

It seems pretty much a given fact that the next generation reactors after the current nuclear fission reactors will be nuclear fusion reactors.

What will be the source of energy for the next generation giga, tera and petawatt reactors?

Reactors which use the strong nuclear force like a quark reactor, or possibly short lived tiny black holes that completely destroy matter and fizzle out in a cascade of photons?

Why do you think this reactor of yours will be the way to go?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
NateTG
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The problem is not power production, but power distribution and availability. I expect that 'clean' localized power sources will be more of a technology development than fusion reactors (which are BTW not particularly promising right now).

So, the next generation of power sources will mprobably be smaller, more efficient engines instead of new power sources.
 
  • #3
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Sorry for not clarifying myself better. What I meant was the next generation in terms of power output, not one based on the economics of the reactor. I do know about plans for energy production decentralisation, which is what many say is one of the pros of a hydrogen power economy.
 
  • #4
Integral
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It is not a given that the next generation of reactors will be fusion. In fact, we are still a long way from commericalizing fusion power. The rest of your post is more sci fi then physics perhaps this post is more suited to general discussion or perhaps engineering. I'll send it to general.
 
  • #5
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Originally posted by Integral
It is not a given that the next generation of reactors will be fusion. In fact, we are still a long way from commericalizing fusion power.
Perhaps instead of looking at it as "The next generation will be fusion because of its properties...", the conclusion can be made by looking at the alternatives for the foreseeable future on the technological horizon. Solar power is pretty much limited by the solar constant, geothermal power won't be of any use on planets lacking an active mantle (even then, a geothermal plant can only increase its power by proportionately increasing its scale - never good in engineering terms) and wind/wave power outputs are both geographically and periodically limited.

I was really looking more for additional proposals, rather than a completely agreeable ranking system.
 
  • #6
russ_watters
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Originally posted by Tyro
Perhaps instead of looking at it as "The next generation will be fusion because of its properties...", the conclusion can be made by looking at the alternatives for the foreseeable future on the technological horizon...
You're missing a key fact and the reason the thread was moved. Fusion power is still only science fiction. So it can't be included in a list of "alternatives for the forseeable future." First it has to be made to work.
What will be the source of energy for the next generation giga, tera and petawatt reactors?
Such requirements are a loooooong way off. Our power requirements aren't scaling that fast, so for the forseeable future (say, 100 years) there isn't any reason why power plants need to put out more than the few gigawatts they currently put out.
 
  • #7
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Russ, read my post and the particular section of Integral's post I quoted carefully. I didn't dispute why it was moved. In fact, it is good it was moved here because this is a more popular forum and I welcome responses.

I was disputing Integrals claim that it was not the next generation reactor.

Just because it has not been done, does not mean it can't be speculated about. Geez man, do I have to justify simple posts without getting them picked apart by over-zealous mentors?

Chill, dude.
 
  • #8
russ_watters
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Its not that we were trying to pick it apart, it just didn't make a whole lot of sense to us.
 
  • #9
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Ah, I see. I hope I've cleared things up a bit with regards to clarifying that I was interested in which power source would be the next generation one, in terms of power output.

Just some friends and I having a debate on the matter.

As a sidenote, just because our economy and development has not evolved to be power hungry, does not mean the demand for it will not be there.

Look at it this way: if nuclear power was never discovered, our governments would be very pro-energy conservation. If petroleum and its fuel derivatives offering cheap, compact energy sources were never discovered, we would be stuck with ox-drawn carts.

If a terawatt fusion reactor could be economically built at a fraction of the cost of a nuclear fission plant (say), the economy and infrastructure of countries will evolve to adapt to this. You'd be seeing a lot more electrical cars, for instance.
 
  • #10
NateTG
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Electrical power is actually really inexpensive already. In addition, it can be used with very good efficiency (95% or better is common).
The problem with electric cars is not the lack of available electricity, but a lack of good storage mechanisms for electrical power. Fossil fuels have hunderds of times the energy density of voltaic cells (both by weight and by volume).
 
  • #11
Integral
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I was disputing Integrals claim that it was not the next generation reactor
I am not clear on what you mean by "next generation". To the best of my knowledge, the next generation of power plants are the ones currently on the drawing boards. Not only are fusion reactors not on the drawing board for commercial power plants they are not even on the horizon. So no they are not the next generation.
 
  • #12
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I already clarified what I meant by next generation. Please read more carefully in the future. For your benefit:
What I meant was the next generation in terms of power output, not one based on the economics of the reactor.
This post wasn't meant to debate which reactors will be next generation.

It was meant to get proposals on what they could be.

Again, I reiterate for your benefit:
I was really looking more for additional proposals, rather than a completely agreeable ranking system.
 
  • #13
LURCH
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Well, I suppose the obvious next step after fusion would be contraterene (matter-antimatter) reactors. The jump in output would be greater than going from coal and other conventional combustables to fission.

I have a friend who has allways thought that fusion power and the decentralised power grid would coincide. Microreactors to power an individual block, maybe even an individual home. Sure would put a stop to city- and state-wide blackouts!
 

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