Thursday, March 11, 2010

Advanced And Delayed

Famulus at Prometheus Fusion has raised enough funds through Kick Starter to get the funds released for his amateur Polywell Fusion Reactor experiments. We look forward to the results in three months or so.

Small fusion is doing well. Big fusion not so much. The roughly $10 billion ITER Project in France is being delayed again. By almost another year. Yeah. I know. Cue up the jokes.

The scheduled start-up date for the ITER fusion reactor project looks set to slip again by 10 months to November 2019. The new date comes less than a year after the start-up was shifted from 2016 to 2018. William Brinkman, director of the Department of Energy's Office of Science, said at a meeting of fusion energy advisers on Monday that the schedule was changed at a meeting of ITER heads of delegations in Paris in late February.

ITER, an enormous research fusion reactor which is shortly due to begin construction in France, is a collaboration between China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and the United States and is due to cost somewhere between €5 billion and €10 billion. (The cost is a current bone of contention.) Over the past couple of years, the funding partners have become alarmed about the rapidly escalating cost estimates and delays in getting the project moving. The ITER council ordered reviews of the costing system and the project management. Sources say that the European Union, which, as host, is shouldering 45% of the construction cost, has been calling for more construction time because of concern that pushing ahead too fast could lead to unacceptable technical risks. Although Brinkman does not name the E.U., he says that a delay until 2020 was requested but after objections the meeting settled on a start date of late in 2019.
I can tell you from practical experience that fudging the dates like that means the project is in way more trouble than the people involved are letting on.

And since from time to time there are people reading here who need to be brought up to speed on fusion I'm reposting my usual: You can learn the basics of fusion energy by reading Principles of Fusion Energy: An Introduction to Fusion Energy for Students of Science and Engineering

Polywell is a little more complicated. You can learn more about Polywell and its potential at: Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained

The American Thinker has a good article up with the basics.

And the best part? We Will Know In Two Years or less.

I'm a big fan of small fusion projects. Especially after hearing what Plasma Physicist and author of Principles of Plasma PhysicsDr. Nicholas Krall said, "We spent $15 billion dollars studying tokamaks and what we learned about them is that they are no damn good." And they seem really hard to build even. And who knows, if the Polywell experiments being done by the US Navy or Famulus are successful the ITER project may just wind up as a big hole in the ground in France.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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