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Fusion power plant!!!

  • 28-06-2005 6:42pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 10,894 ✭✭✭✭


    They're building an experimental fusion plant in France. It's gonna take 10yrs to build. Surely this is bigger news than RTE made it out to be.


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,809 ✭✭✭CerebralCortex


    Didn't hear anything about it any links?


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,696 ✭✭✭StupidLikeAFox


    simpson.gif

    Thats what i thought when i heard the news!

    Anyway, its only in its early stages yet, as said it'll take ten years to build, so i wouldnt be getting so worked up about it just yet. Certainly a step in the right direction though.


  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 90,625 Mod ✭✭✭✭Capt'n Midnight


    Isn't that the one the yanks and Japanese wanted to build in Japan and everyone else wanted to build in the EU ?


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,523 ✭✭✭ApeXaviour


    Isn't that the one the yanks and Japanese wanted to build in Japan and everyone else wanted to build in the EU ?
    One in the same, but then japan removed their bid in return for a sizeable portion of the contract work etc.


  • Registered Users Posts: 999 ✭✭✭cregser


    The BBC News site as 3 different articles about it. I read them earlier today.

    1. Powerful Dream
    2. France Gets Nuclear Fusion Plant
    3. Q&A Fusion

    I think they'll have something built by the end of this year. But they expect the designing of a commercial prototype fusion power plant to take at least a decade. I believe the biggest problem is creating materials for the doghnut shaped reactor that can survive the heat needed for nuclear fusion - which is a few times the heat at the centre of the sun!

    The Japanesse are supposed to have researched heavily in this materials area already. Maybe everyone feels they would be have a technological monopoly if they pulled off fusion in their own country. There's a lot of political and commercial issues involved, as can be seen by manner in which Japan stepped out of the race for the reactor - to get a percentage of research papers produced by the other nations.

    I don't fully get it myself. But if the consortium pulls it off, they'd see themselves in a a very favourable position for future trade.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,184 ✭✭✭causal


    They're building an experimental fusion plant in France. It's gonna take 10yrs to build. Surely this is bigger news than RTE made it out to be.
    I know it's a different story, but when I hear "experimental fusion plant in France" I can't help but think of Pons & Fleishman.

    causal


  • Registered Users Posts: 684 ✭✭✭lostinsuperfunk


    It's very big news alright, and deserving of more media attention given the way oil prices are going at the moment.
    Materials are a major engineering issue. Energy has to be transported away from the reaction area in order to (a) stop parts of the reactor vessel being heat damaged (b) allow the energy to be used to generate electricity as with a conventional power plant (although this will not be done in this plant). The materials also have to be able to withstand being irradiated by the high energy neutrons which are produced by the fusion reaction. Finally, a working fusion reactor will produce some of its own fuel (tritium) by a 'breeding' reaction. The vessel will be clad in a lithium 'blanket'. When neutrons from the fusion reaction collide with the lithium blanket they will produce more tritium by a fission reaction. This complicates things even more as lithium is very chemically reactive and therefore is a difficult substance to work with.


  • Registered Users Posts: 27,645 ✭✭✭✭nesf


    From BBC:
    "With 10 billion [euros], we could build 10,000MW offshore windfarms, delivering electricity for 7.5 million European households," said Jan Vande Putte of Greenpeace International.

    See, if he said we could invest 10 billion euro in researching more efficient forms of alternative power then I'd have respect for him. Providing power for 7.5 million homes versus the possibility of a new "clean" energy source?

    *shakes head in disbelief*

    I really don't know how these guys get to speak to the media. I hope he's just some lowly member and not someone with any power.


  • Registered Users Posts: 807 ✭✭✭Panserborn


    cregser wrote:
    I believe the biggest problem is creating materials for the doghnut shaped reactor that can survive the heat needed for nuclear fusion - which is a few times the heat at the centre of the sun!

    Couple of questions, may be stupid ones cause I'm not a physisist (can't even spell it!) but anyway ........... :confused:

    1) Why do they need a temperature a few times that at the center of the sun? Isn't the sun a big fusion reactor so why can't they use the actual (or near) temperature of the sun cause it works there? Probably something to do with the size of the sun but hey.

    2) How do they generate and sustain a temperature that high without melting the ....... well ....... the Earth?

    3) What kind of output will it generate?

    Nuclear fusion will be really cool if they get it to work, the oil companies will go loco!


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,357 ✭✭✭secret_squirrel


    Panserborn wrote:
    2) How do they generate and sustain a temperature that high without melting the ....... well ....... the Earth?

    the fusion reaction is contained in a magnetic 'bottle' or torus the reaction never reaches the the sides of the container. Infact if I recall correctly if the magnetic containment fails not much happens - the reaction stops almost instantly and the container just gets a bit melty.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 32,136 ✭✭✭✭is_that_so


    Panserborn wrote:
    Couple of questions, may be stupid ones cause I'm not a physisist (can't even spell it!) but anyway ........... :confused:

    1) Why do they need a temperature a few times that at the center of the sun? Isn't the sun a big fusion reactor so why can't they use the actual (or near) temperature of the sun cause it works there? Probably something to do with the size of the sun but hey.

    2) How do they generate and sustain a temperature that high without melting the ....... well ....... the Earth?

    3) What kind of output will it generate?

    Nuclear fusion will be really cool if they get it to work, the oil companies will go loco!

    This link explains it.
    http://www.jet.efda.org/pages/content/fusion1.html


  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 90,625 Mod ✭✭✭✭Capt'n Midnight


    Panserborn wrote:
    Couple of questions, may be stupid ones cause I'm not a physisist (can't even spell it!) but anyway ........... :confused:

    1) Why do they need a temperature a few times that at the center of the sun? Isn't the sun a big fusion reactor so why can't they use the actual (or near) temperature of the sun cause it works there? Probably something to do with the size of the sun but hey.

    2) How do they generate and sustain a temperature that high without melting the ....... well ....... the Earth?

    3) What kind of output will it generate?

    Nuclear fusion will be really cool if they get it to work, the oil companies will go loco!
    At the temperature electrons (negative charge) have enough energy to leave the atoms nuclei (positive charge) behind. Because of the charge you can use use a magnetic field to try to hold the resulting plasma in place. But it's very slippery stuff. I guess you can heat it up with microwaves or similar. re heat the amount of material is small so not really a problem. IIRC it should generate lots of heat and radiation, but very little long term radioactivity. Protons have a half life of 8 minutes, the most radioactive element likely to be used in tests is Tritium ( because it's easier to start) has a half life of a few years, but not a suitable fuel because you have to make it in reactors. You should also be able to extract power from the moving plasma like a dynamo - if they can make the magnetic field self sustaining then they will be a long way down the road.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,659 ✭✭✭Shabadu


    Off topic:

    While we are on the general topic of fusion, could someone explain to me how people think could fusion could work? It seems a bit implausable to me, the notion that there is some magic catalyst that will initiate fusion at room temperature or whatever.

    Just curious, being a layman.


  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 90,625 Mod ✭✭✭✭Capt'n Midnight


    Shabadu wrote:
    Just curious, being a layman.
    The ITER will run at about 100,000,000 degrees C, hardly room temperature, and that is why they need about €30Bn - yes even if you won the eurolotto you wouldn't be able to buy one.

    "Cold" Fusion hasn't been demonstrated yet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_fusion


    Another easy way to initiate fusion is to shine a bright light on some D2 or H2 inside a small ball / pellet.

    How bright ?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1263863.stm
    As the laser beam struck it, the pellet was stripped of its protective housing in a split-second and blasted with more energy than 100 times the peak power output of the entire US power grid.

    Other linkies
    http://optics.org/articles/ole/7/8/3/1 The French have a big laser too.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_power - general fusion link

    PS. the word inquisitive is less ambiguous than the word curious
    PPS. you is a layman :eek:


  • Registered Users Posts: 807 ✭✭✭Panserborn


    Shabadu wrote:
    It seems a bit implausable to me, the notion that there is some magic catalyst that will initiate fusion at room temperature or whatever.

    From what the discovery channel told me, the two that claimed to achieve cold fusion done it at something like 50,000C or something. Don't pull me on the actual number, it was a long time ago that I saw it. Anyway, the point is that they never done it at room temperature, just a temperature way cooler then the temperature of "regular" fusion.
    Shabadu wrote:
    Just curious, being a layman.

    I'm a biologist but physics is cool as long as us Laymen stay away from equations! :rolleyes:


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,475 ✭✭✭Son Goku


    The high tempertures are usually needed so that protons can over come the coulomb repulsion that usually prevents fusion.

    They're also needed to increase the chances of the weak interaction transforming a proton into a neutron, which is necessary for fusion.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,659 ✭✭✭Shabadu


    roffle @ Cap't Midnight.

    Do you honestly think I was implying that the fusion reactor in France had anything to do with cold fusion? I said i was going off topic. I was curious about the concept of cold fusion, I said it didn't seem plausible to me.

    panserborn wrote:
    From what the discovery channel told me, the two that claimed to achieve cold fusion done it at something like 50,000C or something. Don't pull me on the actual number, it was a long time ago that I saw it. Anyway, the point is that they never done it at room temperature, just a temperature way cooler then the temperature of "regular" fusion.

    Thanks, this makes more sense :)

    Those guys still maintained they achieved it, despite no other lab showing the same results, don't they? It's curious.


  • Registered Users Posts: 27,645 ✭✭✭✭nesf


    I don't consider it off-topic here for people to discuss fusion in general. I think it's a good topic for discussion, and tbh, I wouldn't mind learning some more about it myself.

    It's good to see "lay-people" asking questions and them being answered. :)

    They only way you can learn and grasp something is for you to ask questions. Better to ask an overly simplistic and basic question than to remain ignorant of a topic imho. There's no shame in it, a wish to learn about things is a good sign about someone's character.


  • Registered Users Posts: 807 ✭✭✭Panserborn


    Shabadu wrote:
    Those guys still maintained they achieved it, despite no other lab showing the same results, don't they? It's curious.

    So they say. Its never been proven and I vaguely remember that there was controversy on if they were bold face lying about the experiment. It may have happened though - we live in hope!


  • Registered Users Posts: 807 ✭✭✭Panserborn


    is_that_so wrote:

    Finally got around to reading the info on the link, interesting stuff! However, I may be a bit dim (in the ways of physics and perhaps eating spegettii at a girlfriends house without making an a$$ of myself) but at the temperatures reported (100 - 200m C) everything is still going to heat up pretty quick!

    I assume they have everything in a vacuum to stop the heat getting out but (far as I know) nobody has invented anything capable of generating a perfect vacuum yet. I may be wrong (wouldn't be the first time and won't be the last time! :rolleyes: ) but the temperatures still seem to me to be beyond our ability to contain.

    But, upshot is that they're building it so with the cash going into it I assume they've got around this problem - long live fusion, next stop an antimatter engine! :p


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  • Registered Users Posts: 32,136 ✭✭✭✭is_that_so


    I am open to correction here as I am not a physicist and this is from memory. There are three components from what I recall.

    Temperature - far in excess of the heat of the sun in order to force the reaction under way. It causes the gas used to become superheated plasma. They use accelerators to do this.

    Pressure - required to force or fuse the ions together.

    Magnetism- This is the key part - it used to keep the plasma under control and away from the walls of the reactor.

    If the plasma is not kept under control it rapidly loses heat and pressure. At this stage the reaction is not self-sustaining - this is the Holy Grail.

    Once they get all three in harmony by getting the reaction to sustain itself for long enough(a few seconds AFAIK) huge energy is generated and this can be translated into electrical power using heat transfer as in current fission reactors.

    The simplest proposal and one regularly touted as the most likely are the isotopes of hydrogen; deuterium and tritium which when fused become alpha particles (helium without electrons). And seawater is the potential fuel as it contains ample quantities of both. Hence the "unlimited energy" angle.


    The ITER is a takomak reactor - a torus (doughnut shaped) and is the next generation experiment. The last big project was the JET based in Cambridge from the early 80s.

    It is one of the few areas of science where all the big spenders (Japan, EU, USA) have worked together. It was agreed on JET that the research costs are far too expensive to be carried by any one country and that co-operation was the way forward. Up to that point they were all running expensive research of their own. Takomaks are of Japanese design.

    It is not anticipated that we will get a working fusion reactor until the second half of the century.


    As regards cold fusion it has never been proven to work.


  • Registered Users Posts: 684 ✭✭✭lostinsuperfunk


    The high temperatures are generated by a number of methods. Particle accelerators are one of them - you accelerate a beam of deuterons (deuterium nuclei) or some other particle to a very high speed, neutralise it (so it won't be affected by the plasma magnetic field) and then collide it with the fusion plasma. Another method is resistive heating, which is just based on Ohm's Law, P=I^2.R. The plasma has an electrical resistance, R. If you drive a current I through it you heat it up. JET uses several mega amps of current for plasma heating. There are also other methods based on using microwave radiation to transfer energy to the particles in the plasma, similar to the way in which a microwave oven heats water by causing the molecules to vibrate at high frequency.
    Tokamaks are of Japanese design
    The Japanese have one of the world's most advanced tokamaks, JT-60U, but they were originally designed in Russia, the word tokamak is a corruption of the Russian for "toroidal magnetic chamber".
    There's plenty of deuterium in seawater (it is present in relatively low concentration, but there is no shortage of seawater!). Tritium is harder stuff to come by. It is not abundant in nature due to its short half-life. I'm not sure where our current supply comes from. Possibly it is manufactured by using conventional fission reactors to bombard lithium with neutrons, causing it to undergo fission, thus yielding tritium. Or maybe it is released as a by-product of some other fission reaction. Hopefully fusion reactors will 'breed' their own tritium by using the neutrons produced in the fusion reactions to bombard lithium atoms, causing them to undergo fission.
    JET is still going, and will probably continue to run well into ITER's operations. Have a look at http://www.jet.efda.org/ (lots of good stuff about the physics and technology of fusion here too)


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,894 ✭✭✭✭phantom_lord


    16 years later and fusion is again only a few years away


    https://www.ft.com/content/dcb75a56-ca23-439c-96db-56483979bf34



  • Registered Users Posts: 4,832 ✭✭✭shootermacg


    Finally a post that makes sense. I've been reading about breakthroughs, developments and the next ten years for about twenty years now. The fusion reactor that cried wolf :D



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