The Register UK is looking at how Greenpeace views fusion. Greenpeace is suspicious. Yes they are.
The (Joint European Torus) JET reactor in Culham, Oxfordshire was completed 25 years ago, and work is underway on ITER in Cadarache, France, a €10bn facility, backed by six countries (including China) plus the EU. The Czech Republic has a smaller-scale reactor, called Compass. All use magnets to force a fusion of two hydrogen isotopes, deuterium and tritium, releasing enormous amounts of energy. Eventually, it's hoped, more than goes in. ITER is designed to produce 500MW for 300 to 500 seconds with an input of 50MW.Actually fusion has very few of the problems of fission power. There is no radioactive debris left over from the splitting of atoms. The nuclear waste problem is tractable because you can choose the materials that will become radioactive from neutron bombardment by design. Short half lives and low probability of activation are the order of the day. And the risk of a serious nuclear accident? Pretty close to zero. Why? First if you turn the reactor off (with an electrical switch) it stops. If you break the vacuum, it stops. At most a few minutes worth of fuel are in inventory in the fusion reactor. For a fission plant there is at least two years of fuel in the reactor at first start-up. And there is almost no residual heat in a fusion plant unlike fission plants which must be cooled for days after a shut down due to the residual heat produced by fission products.
"We'll certainly have it in fifty years," ITER's Neil Calder told the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation last week. But not if Greenpeace has its way.
Yes, the fuel for fusion is abundant, and far more productive than fossil fuel - one litre of seawater can produce as much as 30 litres of petrol. It's much safer than nuclear fission. And it doesn't release CO2. So what's the problem?
"Governments should not waste our money on a dangerous toy," Jan Van de Putte of Greenpeace International said when ITER was announced in 2005. Van de Putte predicted it will never be efficient - so why bother?
Spokesperson Bridget Woodman said: "Nuclear fusion has all the problems of nuclear power, including producing nuclear waste and the risks of a nuclear accident."
(Which must break the record for the number of false and contradictory assertions you can cram into a 17-word sentence. But that's par for the course these days. When you hear a phrase like "sustainable energy" the opposite is usually intended - the speaker is referring to an energy source that won't sustain anything for very long or very reliably.)
I think the following exemplifies the Greenpeace attitude.
Two of Greenpeace's co-founders, Patrick Moore and Paul Watson long since departed: Watson to run his own anti-whaling group and Moore criticising its anti-human, anti-development agenda. "By the mid-1980s, the environmental movement had abandoned science and logic in favor of emotion and sensationalism," Moore lamented.I do like some fusion reactor designs better than others. Here is my favorite: Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion. Actually the title is somewhat of a mistake. It should be "Low Radiation" as the reactor will have some neutron output. However, it will be greatly reduced from that of a fission plant or other fusion designs. You can read more about it at: World's Simplest Fusion Reactor Revisited. If you want to get in on the research, you can do it by Starting A Fusion Program In Your Home Town. It is not very expensive. With scrounged materials under $1,000. If You go first class and buy everything off the shelf about $100,000. And if you want to join the low cost fusion experiments community may I suggest IEC Fusion Technology blog. There are links to various source materials and discussion groups on the sidebar.
Fusion seems to exemplify what Moore means: an anti-modernity superstition. Greenpeace doesn't understand what fusion is, but whatever it is it will be scary, it will be bad, and it must be stopped.
Cross Posted at Classical Values