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Fusion reactors, here we come!

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), an experimental nuclear fusion reactor, has officially been approved by seven international parties during a meeting in Belgium. The list of international parties includes the United States, European Union, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and India.  The project will cost an estimated $5.9B USD, and is also the world's biggest scientific collaboration. 

reports "We represent more than half of the world's population, and recognize that by working together today we stand a much better chance of tackling the challenges of tomorrow, so energy is an issue of concern for all of us," according to the  EU science and research commissioner, Janez Potocnik.

The end result of the experimental fusion project should be a cheaper, cleaner and safer source of energy.  Global oil demand and greenhouse gas emissions will also theoretically drop if the nuclear fusion reactor is successful.  Fusion is a viable energy source because of natural abundance and availability, while no greenhouse gas emissions will be present.  Another advantage of fusion is that it will not produce any radioactive waste. 

But not everyone is pleased with the news.  Several environmental groups are against the project.  For example, one of the members of the Friends of the Earth group believes it would be a wiser choice to invest in renewable energy and energy conservation.

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WAY too strong
By Sunrise089 on 5/26/2006 9:05:31 AM , Rating: 2
As much as I support fusion research, saying any near-future date will result in society being screwed is going too far. We would have no problem whatsoever fully replacing fossil fuels through a combination of nuclear fission reactors and fuel cells running off hydrogen generated by electrolysis (sp?) Yes it would be an inperfect solution due to nuclear waste, but there would be far less pollution than with current fossil fuel power generation, and there would be far less up front cost per kW compared to solar or wind, if they could even take up all the demand in the first place. Still fusion is the long-term ideal.

RE: WAY too strong
By Hypernova on 5/26/2006 9:53:25 AM , Rating: 2
And where are we going to find the electricity for the electrolysis? Currently H2 is made by breaking down petrolium which defeats the purpose of H2 engines entirly.

Fission fuel is far less abundent then deuterium and the curent supply won't last more then a few centuries if it replaces coal and gas accross the world, even with breeder reactors. And lets not forget about the geens bitching about the waste of which they are right. Fission power is a stop gap at best for what we are doing with them now.

RE: WAY too strong
By Sunrise089 on 5/26/2006 11:59:14 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, i understand all of that. I would have thought that when I mentioned fission nuclear reactors and electrolysis in the same sentance it would have been obvious I was suggesting the nuclear reactors be used to power the equipment to extract the hydrogen for use in the fuel cells by way of electrolysis. I know nuclear fission isn't a permanant solution, but I was responding to the extrememly pessimistic claim that not having fusion power by 2040 would "screw" the world.

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