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    Air Force

    Default Is fusion success in sight?

    Every few years we hear this type stuff. Hopefully one day it'll work out


    Experiments at the National Ignition Facility have given researchers confidence that they'll achieve a milestone in nuclear fusion sometime this year.

    The tests involved blasting a cylinder the size of a pencil eraser, known as a "hohlraum," with 192 laser beams and seeing whether researchers could tweak the energy to create the right kind of implosion. The results suggested that they could - and that the $3.5 billion blaster in California just might produce the world's first controlled fusion reaction, with more energy coming out than going in.
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    Formerly known as ...............Sarge

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    This isn't a totally new approach. Laser inertial confinement of fusion plasmas has been around for decades.

    A solution isn't coming in our lifetimes unless they find some new physics.

    Magnetic or laser inertial confinement of fusion plasmas require a 'reactor' costing approaching $5B. Now if you could generate huge quantities of energy and have no waste then you might be onto something.

    But the easiest reaction to get fusion involves Deuterium and Tritium. These fuse to form helium but the excess energy is not in the form of x or gamma rays (which could easily be converted to heat and then electricity) but in the form of a high energy neutron. This neutron can be captured and the energy used for electricity but will result in your multi-billion $ reactor getting heavily irradiated and structurally failing over time. Every so many years you have to replace the entire reactor core and dump it. So, unlike in conventional fission-based nuclear power reactors where you have the issue of how to safely handle and dispose of waste, in fusion power using a D-T reaction you have the slightly bigger problem of how to handle and dispose of the entire reactor.

    Now if we had new physics knowledge that gave us a practical way to get the D-D reaction to work, then we've really got something; but until then useful commercial power isn't less than a lifetime away.
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