A large banner hangs from the front of the stadium-size building that houses the world´s most powerful array of lasers: "Bringing Star Power To Earth." For the past four years, physicists at the National Ignition Facility, or NIF, in Livermore, California, have been trying to harness nuclear fusion, the same reaction that powers the sun and the stars. Supporters of the $3.5 billion facility believe that a successful outcome to the experiments could help usher in an era of nearly limitless energy. But the ambitious fusion research program at NIF now faces an uncertain future, both politically and scientifically.
Comments: Just a heads up on the energy source of the future, and what will always will be the energy source of the future..
Hot fusion right here on planet Earth is only a few hundred billion bucks away + 30 years ~ sometimes 50 years ~ whatever is persuasive to government fund-meisters.
Those guys make sure they get every dime too ~ anything that could be an alternative to hot fusion/electric power grid scenarios will find its funding sidetracked, it´s investors purposefully discouraged, it´s science advocates blacklisted...... we could go on and on.
I guess after you´ve had 85 years of abject failure greed takes over ~ if you can´t have it nobody can.
Just recently the theory about why gold is shiny and mercury liquid made its way into publication. For some bizarre reason nobody in the physics cared to have the last little bit of research done (it´s because the atomic nucleus in a heavy metal is more massive and exerts more gravitational attraction which pulls the valence electrons closer in changing the electro-weak interaction...... blah, blah, blah.
Trick is that last bit of theory needed proved ~ formally with math and stuff ~ since it wasn´t hot fusion no one cared, or was afraid to make waves.
Well, now the secret is out, and part of that secret is THE COLOUMBE BARRIER changes too! The strength of the barrier in Platinum is different than that in Hydrogen!
85 years of delay so the hot fusion guys could suck down every bit of lab time and printing budget for anything that said coloumbe barrier or nucleus!
Back in the mid 70s my dad, a brilliant electrical engineer that specialized in nuclear power, went to work for the NRC in Oak Ridge TN. At the time they believed that nuclear fusion was just 15 years away. My dad was there for three years and when he left, the feeling was they could reach nuclear fusion in 40 years.
He helped design some of the control systems on the very first reactors at Lawrence Livermore´s NIF.
Like the lead comment states...."In the future...." I really don´t think we will see it this century.
Cheers from Oro Valley, AZ from a retired USAF MSgt.
Buried in the article: "Achieving ignition is only one aspect of the lab´s mission. Its primary purpose—one that will most likely overshadow fusion research in the years ahead—is to enable the United States to maintain its stockpile of nuclear weapons. The country has observed a ban on explosive testing since 1992, and classified work at NIF tests components of nuclear weapons without the need to blow anything up."
How confident does that make you feel about the current readiness of our arsenal?
To the main subject: once ignition has been achieved, is the technology in place to contain it? Are we sure we can bring "star power" to Earth - without turning Earth into a star?
One day, the technical problems will be solved. In the interim there´s all that natural gas, shale oil, .. and coal.
Science has been working on this for over 30 years with little success. Sure, we´ve constructed massive lasers, figured out clever ways to magnetically contain the seed, but whether this will ever be solved in our lifetime remains questionable. Even if it were to be solved, would it ever be commercially feasible? In case you missed it, these projects have been going on since the Department of Energy was created under Richard Nixon in the early 1970s, ostensibly to help ween us off Saudi oil. Well, we are weened off Saudi oil now, thanks to "fracking," and we can be a net exporter of oil if the libertards and Gaia worshipers can be put into insane asylums where they belong, but these costly projects, like the Helios project in the desert, Wind, Geo-Thermal, Solar, etc., are draining the U.S of tax dollars that could be better put to use subsidizing construction of Fischer-Tropsch type gas to liquid refineries around the country.
#6 - I attended a briefing on controlled nuclear fusion in the mid-80s, and according to the presenter, it was "just around the corner." Need I say, he was trying to coax more money out of us? 30 years later, it is just as far away as it was then.
The Earth and climate are gonna do what they´re gonna do and no amount of money can change that.For all we know the Earth´s cycles run in 1000 year chunks or longer. Recorded science doesn´t go back far enough to make long term comparisons.
When you achieve ignition, your problems just begin. Most of the energy in the fusion reaction is in the form of kinetic energy in the released neutrons. The magnetic containment bottle passes the neutrons and they are absorbed by material blanking the reaction chamber. That material gets hot and the heat would be used to heat water. The problem is you can not bombard any material with neutrons and not produce a lot of radioactive material, probably with undesirable properties like becoming brittle and easily broken. All told, a practical energy producing reactor is a huge engineering challenge. Cold fusion, on the other hand, continues to show as much promise. Yes they are measuring lots of neutrons being produced.
#14, that´s why I would have rather seen more funding put into the migma approach - not nearly as costly and promised to provide direct conversion to electric current since one of the by-products were lots of electrons and the neutrons were low energy types.
A cousin of mine worked in Princeton´s fusion lab in the 1990s (in a non-science job) and he said the people he talked to there acknowledged that what they were doing only had a 50/50 chance of working.
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