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(Ars Technica)   Researchers led by a man with an awesome name make significant breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion experiments   (arstechnica.com) divider line 67
    More: Spiffy, nuclear fusions, National Ignition Facility, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, picoseconds, brightness, deuterium, increases exponentially, air pressure  
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5167 clicks; posted to Geek » on 12 Feb 2014 at 6:19 PM (36 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-02-12 05:35:56 PM  
That right there is awesome and that is a true renewable energy that we can utilize to replace coal, NG, oil and nuclear power
 
2014-02-12 05:51:14 PM  
Staff Sgt Max Fightmaster?
 
2014-02-12 06:23:11 PM  
Omar Hurricane?

That IS pretty awesome, subs.
 
2014-02-12 06:24:33 PM  
We've been 10 years from a working model for the past 30 years.  My optimism is waning.
 
2014-02-12 06:24:50 PM  
Awesome! Fusion will now always be 19 years away instead of always 20 years away.
 
2014-02-12 06:32:00 PM  

BigLuca: We've been 10 years from a working model for the past 30 years.  My optimism is waning.


I'm just glad they increased the chocolate rations from 100 grams to 80 grams.
 
2014-02-12 06:33:43 PM  

BigLuca: We've been 10 years from a working model for the past 30 years.  My optimism is waning.


Eh, we'll find out around 2020. I believe that's the current finish date of the full-scale fusion reactor they're making in france...
 
2014-02-12 06:35:46 PM  
I can say with confidence that there is a reasonable chance that we may be able to break even on a fusion reaction sometime in the future.
 
2014-02-12 06:35:59 PM  

BigLuca: We've been 10 years from a working model for the past 30 years.  My optimism is waning.


You sound Amish....


/quit wastin time with that nonsense
 
2014-02-12 06:39:46 PM  

somedude210: That right there is awesome and that is a true renewable energy that we can utilize to replace coal, NG, oil and nuclear power


Isn't fusion nuclear?

Because if we really wanted to go full renewable, we'd just go nuclear with a little bit of hydro (and we've used up all the good hydro sites).  Everything else either doesn't scale to our needs* or has other issues**.  But doing that is political suicide.

*Last I heard, we need ~ a Terawatt at peak load.  So if you can't get me 10GW (1%) off your cool new power source, I'm just not going to count it.  And even if you CAN, it barely makes a dent in the 70% of our production that's Coal/Nat. Gas.

**To the best of my knowledge, solar and wind can't be counted on at all times (sun/wind), and the whole "Put solar on your house and feed into grid" thing drives electrical engineers NUTS because now they have thousands upon thousands of random point sources.  They're not insurmountable problems, but there ARE scaling issues.
 
2014-02-12 06:44:23 PM  
What happens when all the H is gone, and the fusion reaction starts progressing thru the elements and starts producing Iron.

Super Nova?
 
2014-02-12 06:46:55 PM  
Whoa. Giant leap, not even close. Basically, they moved the goalposts by a factor of 100.

For those who are interested in the details, I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation in October when the rumors leaked out, calling them out on the lie. My numbers were dead on.

The real news is that they got something called alpha heating, which means, essentially, that they finally have evidence that fusion reactions are actually warming the fuel. That's good news, but it's a long, long way from any significant milestone, much less a "giant leap."

If you were trying to build a steam engine, it's kind of the equivalent sticking the thermometer in the water and seeing that the temperature is going up a little bit. It's not even close to boiling yet.

For those keeping track, NIF had promised ignition -- boiling the water -- within the year several times, most recently promising it by Oct. 2012.

So, while this is a step forward, it's a HUGE disappointment if you compare it to what was promised -- and what the machine was designed to do.
 
2014-02-12 06:51:34 PM  
Bring back Polywell so we have multiple practical tracks running towards workable fusion power.
 
2014-02-12 06:54:01 PM  
TFA: it could provide an unlimited source of clean energy because the raw materials are plentiful and the operation produces no carbon emissions.


Except, you know, when you're fusing with an attempt to make carbon (  http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/astro/carbcyc.html#c1  )

/yes I know that's not what they're talking about
 
2014-02-12 06:58:33 PM  
another thing fusion can do

www.utexas.edu
 
2014-02-12 07:01:20 PM  
img.fark.net
 
2014-02-12 07:16:17 PM  
Science headline writer guy here!

Did you know you can actually buy an electrical generator that generates a large amount of electrical energy based on a small initial input--literally over 100% efficiency, and they are cheap to produce and require almost no maintenance.

In fact, your car probably has one installed.
 
2014-02-12 07:20:39 PM  
Fist RockBone?
 
2014-02-12 07:20:43 PM  

cgs06: Whoa. Giant leap, not even close. Basically, they moved the goalposts by a factor of 100.

For those who are interested in the details, I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation in October when the rumors leaked out, calling them out on the lie. My numbers were dead on.

The real news is that they got something called alpha heating, which means, essentially, that they finally have evidence that fusion reactions are actually warming the fuel. That's good news, but it's a long, long way from any significant milestone, much less a "giant leap."

If you were trying to build a steam engine, it's kind of the equivalent sticking the thermometer in the water and seeing that the temperature is going up a little bit. It's not even close to boiling yet.

For those keeping track, NIF had promised ignition -- boiling the water -- within the year several times, most recently promising it by Oct. 2012.

So, while this is a step forward, it's a HUGE disappointment if you compare it to what was promised -- and what the machine was designed to do.


I think you're right, and I don't expect to see it in my lifetime (63 now) - but in the long view, based on track record, I like our chances with fusion. For one thing, we know for certain that it IS a real thing, we can observe it.
We just have to figure out how to do it ourselves, without dividing by zero or something.
 
2014-02-12 07:27:41 PM  
Larry Livermore?
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2014-02-12 07:29:32 PM  

Quoting the paper:

The total fuel energy gain, Gfuel = Efusion/EDT,total is now known and is 1.2-1.4 for N130927. For comparison, in Table 1 we also show results from other data-derived models of implosion energetics that are constructed in the spirit of the above analysis but which differ in some details. A conduction-limited temperature profile in the hotspot is added to the above development in one case and the other 'detailed model' case includes a three-dimensional, self-consistent physics model matched to the data. To complement these analytic data-driven models, in Table 1 we also show the results from a full, one-dimensional, radiation-hydrodynamics simulation of N130927, with a multifrequency X-ray drive that is calibrated to shock-timing and implosion trajectory data, without any mix model applied. The inferences from data and the computer simulation all indicate that Gfuel>1. Moreover, we have demonstrated repeatability and improvement with the follow-on shot N131119. It should be understood, however, that Gfuel>1 indicates only that the output fusion energy exceeds the energy deposited into the fuel. This is not the same as exceeding either the energy absorbed by the capsule (defined as the ablator shell plus D-T fuel), which absorbed ~150kJ for N130927 and N131119, or the energy delivered by the laser to the target (defined as the hohlraum plus capsule), which was 1.8MJ for N130927 and 1.9MJ for N131119.
The last two sentences say they are still running an energy deficit.  Seems to be 1% overall efficiency, in round numbers 20 kJ return on 2 MJ investment.
 
2014-02-12 07:34:23 PM  
How to make fusion technology useful in energy independence: drop bombs on everyone but our bestest friends, take everybody else's oil.

/profit
 
2014-02-12 07:42:56 PM  

meyerkev: Isn't fusion nuclear?

Because if we really wanted to go full renewable, we'd just go nuclear with a little bit of hydro (and we've used up all the good hydro sites). Everything else either doesn't scale to our needs* or has other issues**. But doing that is political suicide.


Yes, and no.  Not in the same sense as Fission plants, which use radioactive fuel, isn't renewable, and produce highly radioactive, largely unusable waste products.  What they do is require a lot less fuel for generating a lot of power by using the natural heat given off during nuclear fission (which the fuel just does on it's own with no external energy required) to heat water to steam to turn turbines.

With a fusion plant, the fuel is hydrogen (an isotope of hydrogen usually, like deuterium or tritium, which have +1 and +2 neutrons respectively), is practically renewable (running out of hydrogen would be incredibly hard to do), and produces helium as it's waste product.

Of course, the problem is that, unlike fission, atoms sitting around just don't fuse on their own, you have to cram them together with enough force to do it.  The sun does it by gravity, but we don't really have that option.  So, we have to do it manually, as it were, which requires a large amount of energy.  We figured out how to do that back in the 50s with H Bombs, which use a Fission nuke to provide enough pressure to set off a Hydrogen fusion bomb.  That's a little messy though, so we started looking for new ways to do it, and we found them.  Now the real problem is sustaining a controlled fusion reaction, where the fusion started by the initial energy input continues the process with more fuel, which requires constantly feeding in fuel and removing byproducts, which isn't easy since you want the reaction to be completely contained.
 
2014-02-12 07:43:14 PM  
Marty!!  Get the DeLorean!!
 
2014-02-12 08:03:43 PM  

GWSuperfan: Omar Hurricane?

That IS pretty awesome, subs.


That's "Hurrikawhn"
 
2014-02-12 08:03:44 PM  

ZAZ: Quoting the paper:The total fuel energy gain, Gfuel = Efusion/EDT,total is now known and is 1.2-1.4 for N130927. For comparison, in Table 1 we also show results from other data-derived models of implosion energetics that are constructed in the spirit of the above analysis but which differ in some details. A conduction-limited temperature profile in the hotspot is added to the above development in one case and the other 'detailed model' case includes a three-dimensional, self-consistent physics model matched to the data. To complement these analytic data-driven models, in Table 1 we also show the results from a full, one-dimensional, radiation-hydrodynamics simulation of N130927, with a multifrequency X-ray drive that is calibrated to shock-timing and implosion trajectory data, without any mix model applied. The inferences from data and the computer simulation all indicate that Gfuel>1. Moreover, we have demonstrated repeatability and improvement with the follow-on shot N131119. It should be understood, however, that Gfuel>1 indicates only that the output fusion energy exceeds the energy deposited into the fuel. This is not the same as exceeding either the energy absorbed by the capsule (defined as the ablator shell plus D-T fuel), which absorbed ~150kJ for N130927 and N131119, or the energy delivered by the laser to the target (defined as the hohlraum plus capsule), which was 1.8MJ for N130927 and 1.9MJ for N131119.The last two sentences say they are still running an energy deficit.  Seems to be 1% overall efficiency, in round numbers 20 kJ return on 2 MJ investment.


It actually says pretty clearly that the overall energy put into the system is 100 times more than the energy they got out. You just had to keep reading past all those times it said they got more out than was put in.
 
2014-02-12 08:07:16 PM  
I attended a lecture last week by a researcher named Edward Moses from Lawrence Livermore.  He described using high-powered lasers to create pulsed fusion reactions using a small ball of frozen hydrogen.  Very interesting stuff if they can get a power plant operational.  E = mc^2 FTW.
 
2014-02-12 08:08:31 PM  
old news; this is what youre looking for

zero-point energy is where the real deal is
 
2014-02-12 08:11:52 PM  

GWSuperfan: Omar Hurricane?


Is he related to the Newport Hurricanes ?
 
2014-02-12 08:14:13 PM  

Kanemano: GWSuperfan: Omar Hurricane?

Is he related to the Newport Hurricanes ?


Or Hurricane Ditka?
 
2014-02-12 08:22:03 PM  

RightWingWacko: What happens when all the H is gone, and the fusion reaction starts progressing thru the elements and starts producing Iron.

Super Nova?


Fusion of heavier elements requires more heat and pressure, so a fusion reactor only able to fuse hydrogen will shut down without it.

In the nuclear fusion of a star, anything smaller than half the mass of the sun will never be able to fuse helium (unless it happens to accrete more mass from another stellar body).
 
2014-02-12 08:26:47 PM  
 
2014-02-12 08:35:45 PM  

RaiderFanMikeP: another thing fusion can do

[www.utexas.edu image 610x987]


Typos don't really instill much confidence, considering the precision required, if you're trying to convince someone nuclear is the way to go.

/pro-nuclear
 
2014-02-12 08:45:13 PM  
Debbie Callahan is a dude?

I'm not sure what a Zulfikar Najmudin  is...
 
2014-02-12 08:46:38 PM  
The lasers use more energy than the reaction produces.

And yet the TFA says, they "produce more energy than the fuel put in".

wut?
 
2014-02-12 08:50:25 PM  
Zulfikar Najmudin, a plasma physicist at Imperial College

Where, on Coruscant?
 
2014-02-12 09:03:55 PM  

jaytkay: The lasers use more energy than the reaction produces.

And yet the TFA says, they "produce more energy than the fuel put in".

wut?


What I took from another article is that the lasers didn't entirely hit the target, so a lot of energy was wasted. However, the resulting fusion reaction created just a fraction more energy than the amount of laser energy that did hit, so, from that sense, it was a surplus.
 
2014-02-12 09:06:01 PM  
Gene Masseth?
 
2014-02-12 09:12:47 PM  

Summoner101: RaiderFanMikeP: another thing fusion can do

[www.utexas.edu image 610x987]

Typos don't really instill much confidence, considering the precision required, if you're trying to convince someone nuclear is the way to go.

/pro-nuclear


I would bet money that the important people doing all the precise calculations and practices are not working in the design department. I think we will all be safe.

/also pro-nuclear
 
2014-02-12 09:13:18 PM  
Just think - once we get our electricity from a fuel source that costs next to nothing, our electricity rates will go way do.... WHAHAHAHHAA. Sorry, couldn't finish that with a straight face.

Actually, I read somewhere that if you extracted deuterium (something like 1 in 5000 naturally occurring H atoms) from only the top one foot of the world's oceans, it could meet the world's current energy needs for something like 2 million years. The only question is what (if anything) it costs to get it.

Still, having unlimited electricity isn't the answer to everything. My parents are without power in SC but are getting some heat from their natural gas fireplace. All the cheap electricity in the world can't help them right now.
 
2014-02-12 09:14:12 PM  

Felgraf: BigLuca: We've been 10 years from a working model for the past 30 years.  My optimism is waning.

Eh, we'll find out around 2020. I believe that's the current finish date of the full-scale fusion reactor they're making in france...


It will be built by then.  2027 for D-T fusion.  It is a full scale research facility, meant to achieve some important milestones.  Even if it goes well, we'll "find out" how to make a real useful reactor sometime in the 2030s.  It may very well be that the design for an actual GW scale power plant is unachievable, or comes to a trillion dollars or something.
 
2014-02-12 09:14:27 PM  

jaytkay: The lasers use more energy than the reaction produces.

And yet the TFA says, they "produce more energy than the fuel put in".

wut?


The lasers don't deposit anywhere near all of their energy onto the D-T pellet. They don't even blast it directly; they hit a target around the pellet and cause an excitation of x-rays. It's those x-rays that actually compress and heat the pellet. So on top of the fact that lasers (obviously) aren't 100% efficient, you lose a lot of energy from the laser->xray conversion; and only a portion of the laser energy makes it to the pellet in a useful fashion. As I understand it, the energy released from the pellet finally exceeded the energy that made it to the pellet itself; and that's what they mean by more than what was put into the fuel. But, since that's only about 1% of the total energy supplied to the lasers, they have a ways to go before they reach a true break even point.
 
2014-02-12 09:16:19 PM  

Bloody William: Zulfikar Najmudin, a plasma physicist at Imperial College

Where, on Coruscant?


He's probably a Gungan too...
 
2014-02-12 09:23:39 PM  
I used to work in fusion research, pretty much what's described in the article: laser driven fusion. The problem is, when you really do the math, you need to get about 100X more energy out than what it takes to ignite deuterium/tritium to have something that's economically viable.

Small scale experiments where fusion has produced more energy than what it's taken to produce ignition have been around since the mid 1970s.

NIF has a long long long long way to go. It's a good example of putting all your money on one horse. The money that NIF has gobbled up would have been better spent supporting a couple dozen other small projects, one of which would have perhaps found the way to make fusion economically viable. There was no reason to think the setup at NIF would, or ever will, achieve economic fusion.

/Theoretical physicist.
//Naval Research Laboratory, laser-driven inertial confinement fusion.
///Laid off mainly because that idiot Nobel Prize in physics Secretary of Energy couldn't be bothered with a $20 million project that indicated NIF would never work.
////Even to Bill Gates, $20 million is something worth a little thought.
Asshole. Too bad. Cheap clean energy that's dependable and can't be made into a nuke is something the world really needs. God help us.
 
2014-02-12 09:37:36 PM  
Mbudikai Morgan?
 
2014-02-12 11:02:20 PM  

chozo13: [img.fark.net image 560x375]


When I get a dog, I'm going to name him "Omar", so that in the evenings I can yell "OMAR, COME IN!" out my front door.
 
2014-02-12 11:35:30 PM  
I don't get one thing - if the shape of the pellet matters a lot, and the pressure/temperature are 3 times what they are at the center of the sun, then how does the sun do it?

Do enough atoms just have the right spatial configuration (randomly) and the right temperature/pressure to enable fusion to start? Once it starts, is it easier to maintain without such rigid fuel-shape requirements?
 
2014-02-12 11:39:45 PM  

HighZoolander: and the pressure/temperature are 3 times what they are at the center of the sun, then how does the sun do it?


With a lot of mass.
 
2014-02-13 01:13:43 AM  
I don't know much about the science but isn't the point of fusion that it's self-sustaining once ignited? Therefore it doesn't matter how much it takes to get started, right?
 
2014-02-13 01:37:23 AM  
Let me know when we get to one of these:

img.fark.net
 
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