I have been going hot and heavy on the Bussard Fusion Reactor. I think it is time to present the other side. DNA India reports: ITER is ‘the way’ to the future of energy. Well I don't believe it. I think ITER (The International Thermonuclear Energy Reactor) is doing wonderful physics. The chances for a working power plant from this effort, in my opinion, are slim and none. From DNA India:
Ever wondered what makes the sun so hot? The process is called fusion and it involves the coming together of four hydrogen nuclei to form a helium nucleus. It is accompanied by the release of huge amounts of energy which we get in the form of light and heat. Now, scientists are trying to replicate the fusion process in an experimental project and India is playing a crucial role in it.That is seven years of effort. Added to the 40+ years already invested in the project.
The International Thermonuclear Energy Reactor (ITER) project is a joint international research project that will demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion power. The countries involved in this one-of-its-kind project are USA, European Union, Japan, Russia, India, China and South Korea.
Carlos Alejaldre, deputy director general of ITER, who was in Mumbai to attend a colloquium at BARC spoke extensively on the project. Terming it as one of the most challenging projects ever, Alejaldre said the project would integrate together key technologies from various fields.
So what is the project all about? “The project involves production of 500 MW of power for a considerable amount of time by fusing deuterium and tritium (both are isotopes of hydrogen),” Alejaldre said.
And this is no ordinary power production by any means. “Deuterium and Tritium would be fused at temperatures ranging from 100 to 200 million degrees and at pressure of 106 atmosphere,” he added.
The construction of the reactor would begin in 2009 and it will become operational in 2016.
The one thing you have to say about it is that it is training a lot of plasma physicists.
Alejaldre believes the advance in fusion technology has been faster than Moore’s law which predicts advances in the power of computer processor. “ITER represents a quantum leap in fusion power production. The maximum amount of power generated in a fusion power plant so far was 16 MW. In ITER, this number will swell to 500 MW,” he said.He neglects one important detail. It is easy to get 500 MW out if you are putting 1,000 MW in. So far no reactor in the ITER series has produced net power. The ITER will have lots of superconducting magnets. Be 31.5 meters (103 ft) high and weigh as much as an aircraft carrier. That would put it in the 100,000 ton range.
So when will the fusion power of ITER actually reach home? “ITER is a purely experimental project. The 500 MW power won’t be connected to the grid. However, if all goes well with ITER, a machine considerably bigger than ITER should start generating electrical power by 2040.”
It will also be a huge neutron generator, making it excellent for producing plutonium from uranium.
By contrast the Bussard design, Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion, when fueled with Boron 11 produces no neutrons, would be about 6 ft across for 100 MW output and about 8 ft across for 500 MW output. Plus it could deliver power to the grid without the need for steam generators, turbines, generators, steam condensers, and the rest of that kind of thermal plant that ITER requires to turn its output into electricity. BTW such a plant operationg at the highest standard temperatures for steam plants could turn maybe as much as 40% of the thermal energy into electricity. Sixty percent is a big giveaway in terms of making the ITER monsters practical.
The Bussard design is a better bet and if it works power plants could be in mass production in 15 years or less from the day the final research and development work starts.
Cross Posted at Classical Values