Author Topic: Fusion reactor developments?  (Read 340 times)

Offline rhubarbpie (OP)

Fusion reactor developments?
« on: April 20, 2017, 02:18:44 PM »
Fusion reactor development has long interested me.  From what little I know, Tri Alpha is unique in that they plan to fuse boron and won't use their reactor as a glorified steam boiler.

By fusing boron I believe they avoid producing neutrons.  The downside is it requires higher temperatures than fusing only hydrogen and the energy output is lower.  However, avoiding neutrons has a strong economic argument in that neutrons degrade the reactor.

I'm a touch hazy as to how they generate electricity, but have to figure bypassing a boiler and turbines is a good thing.

Am I right in my analysis?  Are there others following the similar routes?

I've read of other efforts, notably Lockheed.  Unfortunately, Lockheed seems to be rather closed about information.  Are there other interesting developments?

Re: Fusion reactor developments?
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2017, 02:48:49 PM »
Physicsforums.com would be a good place to ask.
We 'new atheists' have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake  we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame put it on the the religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the  young for a long long time."
PZ Myers

Online Mr.Obvious

Re: Fusion reactor developments?
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2017, 03:29:20 PM »
I am afraid my knowledge on fusion only extends to DBZ.
And even then, it is meager.
E = Mc²

In the end, we are all standing in the dark,
trying to figure out why we are here.
But let us not choose one direction
without proof of where it is headed.

Check your pocket for matches
so we can observe and learn together
as fast friends and relative idiots.

Offline SGOS

Re: Fusion reactor developments?
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2017, 04:47:11 PM »
I'm a touch hazy as to how they generate electricity, but have to figure bypassing a boiler and turbines is a good thing.
Many years ago, I helped a kid build a solar battery.  One stage of the project required baking boron onto a silicon arsenic wafer.  This was the actual battery, and when exposed to light one side of the wafer became positive and the other side negative, and it emitted a small amount of electricity.  I think it may have run a very small electric motor, but it's been so long.  It might have just registered on a meter.

I don't have a clue why this happens, but there might be something about boron, possibly in the presence of certain other elements, that when excited, it releases an electric current.  I'd be totally surprised if this is what happens in a fusion reactor.  I just remembered "boron" and "solar battery" when I read your post.

Offline Baruch

Re: Fusion reactor developments?
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2017, 08:22:50 PM »
Thermocouples could be used to convert heat to electricity .. instead of a steam boiler or a liquid sodium heat exchanger.
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Offline Cavebear

Re: Fusion reactor developments?
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2017, 06:06:32 AM »
I will admit that if I understood any of this, I would not be here.  LOL!
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead

Offline Baruch

Re: Fusion reactor developments?
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2017, 07:02:55 AM »
I will admit that if I understood any of this, I would not be here.  LOL!

Put energy in to get energy out.  Most of the time it is a net loss of energy (thanks entropy).  In the case of nuclear fusion, you are cheating ... you are tapping into energy that wasn't officially in the input (because it was hiding as mass).  Of course almost anything nuclear produces neutrons, and neutron flux is deadly, and creates radioactive pollution.  There is no free lunch, even with nuclear fusion.
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Offline Cavebear

Re: Fusion reactor developments?
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2017, 04:23:10 AM »
Well, so long as we aren't discussing cold fusion...
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead

Offline Baruch

Re: Fusion reactor developments?
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2017, 07:13:16 AM »
Well, so long as we aren't discussing cold fusion...

We do discuss cold fusion, in Winter ;-)
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Re: Fusion reactor developments?
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2017, 07:58:58 AM »
They're using a fusion reactor in England to study spacey shit. Not a practical power source by any means, but "of what use is a new born baby?"
We 'new atheists' have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake  we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame put it on the the religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the  young for a long long time."
PZ Myers

Offline Cavebear

Re: Fusion reactor developments?
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2017, 09:24:40 AM »
Babies are very different.  A better question, in 1900, might have been "what use is AC current"?
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead

Offline Baruch

Re: Fusion reactor developments?
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2017, 12:36:31 PM »
Babies are very different.  A better question, in 1900, might have been "what use is AC current"?

Know the history, know the answer.  Edison was demonstrating the dangers of AC current, but using it with the first electric chair.  Edison was inventive, but also evil.  And he falsely claimed the DC current (which he was invested in) wasn't dangerous.
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Offline trdsf

Re: Fusion reactor developments?
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2017, 01:03:18 PM »
Fusion power, as I've said before, is to physics what artificial intelligence is to computer science: always twenty years in the future regardless of when you're making your prediction.

That said, Lockheed is reported to be making some progress, based on a poster presented at the 2016 American Physics Society meeting, but it looks like they're going to miss their 'reactor you could fit on a truck flatbed' by a ways.  Even so, the scaled-up Lockheed reactor, if they can get it to work, is still not that grossly huge; they're looking at 50' long and 20' in diameter, and if you've ever been in a traditional power plant, you know that's nothing untoward.

Tri Alpha and boron fusion are new to me, but hey, multiple tracks.  There doesn't need to be just one way to do it.  There are multiple types of fission reactors in service, there's no reason there can't be multiple types of fusion reactors.
"It's hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning." -- Calvin and Hobbes
"I thought I committed regicide today, but I committed deicide!" -- Sadie Doyle, Beyond Belief

Re: Fusion reactor developments?
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2017, 01:36:37 PM »
Babies are very different.  A better question, in 1900, might have been "what use is AC current"?
I'm down with the first one, babies are shit.
We 'new atheists' have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake  we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame put it on the the religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the  young for a long long time."
PZ Myers

Offline Baruch

Re: Fusion reactor developments?
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2017, 06:46:39 PM »
Fusion power, as I've said before, is to physics what artificial intelligence is to computer science: always twenty years in the future regardless of when you're making your prediction.

That said, Lockheed is reported to be making some progress, based on a poster presented at the 2016 American Physics Society meeting, but it looks like they're going to miss their 'reactor you could fit on a truck flatbed' by a ways.  Even so, the scaled-up Lockheed reactor, if they can get it to work, is still not that grossly huge; they're looking at 50' long and 20' in diameter, and if you've ever been in a traditional power plant, you know that's nothing untoward.

Tri Alpha and boron fusion are new to me, but hey, multiple tracks.  There doesn't need to be just one way to do it.  There are multiple types of fission reactors in service, there's no reason there can't be multiple types of fusion reactors.

A working fusion reactor, like a working fission reactor, is likely to produce considerable neutron flux.  This makes for lots of fun radioisotope waste.  Fukushima ... with on-Earth solar power!  Nuclear power is much more practical in outer space.  You can literally dump your trash/fallout into the Sun.
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