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  (Source: 20th Century Fox)
The energy released by the pellet of fuel exceeded the absorbed energy, but was less than the total energy used

The pellet imploded, producing more energy than it absorbed.  As the reaction died down, the physicists sat back to assess their work.  In layman's terms, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers' September fusion effort could be summed up with a simple phrase -- close, but no cigar. But celebratory smoke or not, the latest test at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) is a promising sign that mankind is growing closer to harnessing the power source of countless solar systems across the universe -- fusion.

I. Cheaper Than ITER, but Mired in Controversy, NIF Soldiers On

Located in sunny central California on the grounds of the University of California, Berkley (UC Berkley) -- the LLNL's NIF seemed an ideal place for fusion experimentation to occur.  UC Berkley faculty, alumni, and researchers have won 72 Nobel Prizes (including 28 alumni Nobel laureates).  Five of these Nobel Prizes were in physics and belong to deceased faculty.  But UC Berkley also boast three active Noble Prize winners.

But for all the brainpower it's been a rocky road for the NIF.

Construction began in 1997 on the fusion apparatus, which uses the indirect drive methodology, in which the fusion fuel is heated not directly (as in magnetically contained plasma fusion devices), but indirectly via a secondary material.

NIF Laser pre-amps
Pre-amplifiers are pictured pumping up the power to the LLNL's record-setting laser.  The laser's power system is only 1 percent efficient from plug-to-beam. [Image Source: LLNL]

The NIF uses laser-confinement and is competing with the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) to become the first energy positive fusion device.  ITER is a $17.5B USD international research reactor being constructed in Cadarache, France by an international team from the United States, China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation.  It uses a more traditional magnetic confinement scheme -- but it is also substantially more costly than the NIF.

When compared to ITER, the NIF's energy source and confinement methodology is far more exotic, employing 192 parallel laser beams from flashlamp-pumped, neodymium-doped phosphate glass lasers.  The device would focus these beams within its hohlraum -- German for "hollow room" -- a small metal vessel that absorbs and transfers heat to the fusion fuel pellet.  Inside the vessel is a small, spherical fusion pellet about 2 mm in diameter.  The pellet is coated in deuterium and tritium (so-called DT fuel), fusible hydrogen isotopes.  A small amount of DT gas is also inside the pellet's interior.  The pellet is first chilled to ~18 K (-255 ºC).

NIF Pellet
A cryogenically chilled hydrogen DT isotope fuel pellet [Image Source: LLNL]

When the lasers hit the vessel, the vessel absorbs them and transmits X-Rays to the pellet, which in turn heats up becoming an explosive plasma.  Pressures of over 100 billion times Earth's atmosphere (~100,000 Megabar) and 3.3 million Kelvin -- roughly nearly 300,000 times the mean surface temperature of the Earth -- are reach as the fuel pellet implodes, creating a shockwave that further compresses the DT fuel, triggering fusion, a process in which alpha particles (2 proton + 2 neutrons with no electrons) are violent created, ejecting neutrons, which trigger the fusion of more hydrogen nuclei into alpha particles.

NIF Hohlraum
The hohlraum, in finished form [Image Source: LLNL]
 
The chamber is designed to measure and contain up to 45 MegaJoules (MJ) worth of energy produced by the ensuing alpha-particle drive fusion chain reaction -- or roughly the energy released by 11 kilograms of TNT exploding.  If the design proved successful, it could be expanded to employ more efficient direct drive reactions and higher energy limits; plus the harvested heat energy from the vessel could be used to produce electricity.

But construction of the facility saw a number of setbacks, taking until 2009 to complete.  At that point the facility was five years behind schedule and the budget had soared from $1B USD to $4.4B USD.

NIF lasers
The NIF was finished 5 years late and way over budget. [Image Source: LLNL]
LLNL researchers promised big results -- saying they should be able to achieve ignition by the end of September 2012, with the help of a 500-terawatt (TW) laser pulse.

But September came and went with no fusion, leading members of Congress to call on the NIF to be shut down.  IEEE Spectrum editor Bill Sweet, a veteran of India's nuclear power development project, blasted the effort arguing that most physicists view laser-contained (aka. "inertial confinement") fusion ignition as a pipe dream.  He argues that most agree that magnetic confinement fusion is far more likely to be realized, though still a difficult problem.  He titled a recent piece on the NIF "The Mother of All Boondoggles?" and in it, he infers that it is.
 

II. Energy Neutral -- at a Pellet Level, at Least

Now LLNL has issued a release saying it has worked out some of the early hiccups in the implosion process and achieved a major milestone.

Earlier fuel implosions were patterned "like a porcupine", according to researchers, so they tweaked the shape of the ultraviolet lasers and cut the durations of their pulse from 15 nanoseconds to 10 nanoseconds.  By doing this the team managed to greatly improve the energy output of the fusion event.
 
NIF building
The NIF is housed in a building the size of 3 football fields. [Image Source: LLNL]

A late August implosion produced a neutron yield of nearly 3e15, or approximately 8,000 joules of neutron energy.  NIF Associate Director Ed Moses comments, "The yield was significantly greater than the energy deposited in the hot spot by the implosion.  This represents an important advance in establishing a self-sustaining burning target, the next critical step on the path to fusion ignition on NIF."

Of course 8 kJ pales in comparison to the 1.7 MJ (1.8e6 J) of laser power used to trigger the fusion.  Even worse, that shot requires up to 3.0+ MJ at the infrared level which drives the UV lasers, and up to 422 MJ at the capacitor level, which pumps the lasers.  From the laser output, only roughly 1 percent of the energy from the capacity pumping stage is used.

NIF laser positioning
Modern lasers are as much as 15 times more efficient than the capacitor pumped ones used by the NIF. [Image Source: LLNL]

Future commercial fusion setups could use newer diode pumped lasers to achieve efficiencies as high as 16-18 percent (using the current state of the art components).  That could cut the required output of the fusion reaction by more than an order of magnitude.

Second as little as 15 percent of the energy is absorbed by the hohlraum, and as little as 15 percent is retransmitted as X-rays to the target pellet.  By switching to a so-called polar direct-drive (PDD) scheme (where the lasers directly sweep over the target pellet), as much as 1/(.15^2) = 44+ times theoretical gain could be observed.

NIF Hohlraum NIF pellet
One potential optimization is to ditch the hohlraum (left) and directly drive the fusion even by targeting the pellet (right) with laser sweeps. [Image Source: LLNL]
 

Cumatively these improvements have the potential to cut the total energy used to around 1 MJ from plug to pellet.  That still would require a dramatic improvement in the reaction performance -- more than two orders of magnitude -- to break even on a plant basis.  But despite its shortcomings and setbacks, the NIF continues to defy doubters and shave off these orders of magnitude.

Papers on the new work have been published in the AIP peer-reviewed journal Physics of Plasmas and the Journal of Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion.

Sources: Physics of Plasmas Journal, Journal of Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, LLNL, BBC News



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Hmmm
By Ammohunt on 10/9/2013 10:02:25 AM , Rating: 5
Weren't we supposed to have Mr. Fusion by now?




RE: Hmmm
By laviathan05 on 10/9/2013 10:13:13 AM , Rating: 1
I think 2050 is the target date for working fusion generators, after an estimate $50-$80 billion is spent on further development and experimentation.


RE: Hmmm
By tayb on 10/9/2013 12:26:50 PM , Rating: 5
The costs are truly irrelevant if the end result is ignition. The value to humanity is limitless which speaks nothing of the economic value. Even spending trillions of dollars to achieve ignition would pay over over and over and over again. There is no amount of money that wouldn't be worth it long term. Fusion ignition would be the crowning achievement of humanity by far.


RE: Hmmm
By 91TTZ on 10/9/13, Rating: -1
RE: Hmmm
By Jeffk464 on 10/9/2013 2:09:25 PM , Rating: 2
cheep energy? it wont be cheap, but it should solve the problems associated with fossil fuels.


RE: Hmmm
By Kiffberet on 10/10/2013 8:21:39 AM , Rating: 2
I agree.

It'll only be cheap if you exclude cost of the manufacture and maintenance of the power station.

Fission reactors are no where near are complicated and they cost a $25B+ to build.



RE: Hmmm
By 91TTZ on 10/9/2013 2:29:25 PM , Rating: 2
To elaborate on my previous post, liken the Earth to an island populated with animals. At first, there are very few animals. With very few animals there are plenty of plants for them to eat so they breed quickly. Eventually the population gets high enough that a bottleneck forms- food limitation. So you eventually have (let's say) 10,000 animals on this island and many of them are starving. They keep trying to reproduce further but the food shortage limits their numbers. It's a shame to see thousands of skinny animals on the brink of starvation but it's a self-inflicted problem.

Now let's say you develop a revolutionary new fertilizer that lets plants grow 10x as fast. Your food shortage is now over... but only temporarily. In a few years they've reproduced until there are 10x as many animals. Now you're in the same boat again with food being the limiting factor. The only difference is that instead of 10,000 skinny, starving animals you have 100,000 skinny, starving animals. This isn't really surprising since you didn't address the root problem which is overpopulation.

My point is that revolutionary new food and energy sources are not needed on Earth. They're only a temporary, stop-gap measure that buys you time to address the real problem which is overpopulation. The entire Earth shouldn't look like Manhattan. Overpopulation is the root causes of many of the problems we're now seeing. It leads to the increased expenditure of energy, it leads to increased prices of food and other goods, it leads to increased pollution, and it leads to increased conflict as countries fight over resources.


RE: Hmmm
By ClownPuncher on 10/9/2013 2:37:32 PM , Rating: 4
Molten salt Thorium reactors. You'll be able to sleep at night knowing it won't make your pets skinny.


RE: Hmmm
By Mint on 10/9/2013 11:23:06 PM , Rating: 2
Molten salt uranium could be even better: simpler, less R&D, low-enrichment

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4brIE0zlKWU


RE: Hmmm
By ClownPuncher on 10/10/2013 11:50:02 AM , Rating: 2
Thorium is far more abundant, though.


RE: Hmmm
By Mint on 10/11/2013 8:59:23 PM , Rating: 2
That's not an issue. If uranium went up in price 10x, we'd have unlimited amounts from the sea, and the DMSR's fuel cost would only be 0.2c/kWh. Even current production is enough to supply the entire world with electricity if DMSRs replace current plants.

The problem with the thorium cycle are proliferation concerns of U233. Claims of U233's decay chain emitting too much radiation to be useful for weapons are exaggerated.


RE: Hmmm
By Manch on 10/9/2013 2:43:47 PM , Rating: 1
So you should remove yourself from the population?!


RE: Hmmm
By Mint on 10/9/2013 11:15:49 PM , Rating: 3
Thank you.

These Malthusian douches should just embrace their cause and rid the world of their burden to humanity.

Every population on the planet has voluntarily reduced its birth rate after becoming developed. That outcome is the complete opposite of what is predicted by 91TTZ's hare-brained theory.

It's a problem that disappears by itself when you advance humanity.


RE: Hmmm
By Captain Orgazmo on 10/10/2013 1:03:54 AM , Rating: 1
You are correct, mostly. However, once a civilization's birthrate falls, as it abandons faith for reason, what will cause it to rise up far enough to achieve the replacement rate (2.1 children/woman) again? Europe is down to 1.3, circling the drain.

Another, more fertile, but also more barbaric culture, will take the place of the West, as has happened before. History predicts that they, in time, will either implode, or advance then decline.

The question is not whether the Earth will survive humanity, but whether humanity will survive itself.


RE: Hmmm
By Manch on 10/10/2013 7:21:52 AM , Rating: 2
I'm on it! I will do my best to reverse the dwindling population. Better get to banging every club chic I meet. Of course, the problem is if I'm successful the local population will be largely related so maybe I should rethink my course of action.


RE: Hmmm
By ShieTar on 10/10/13, Rating: -1
RE: Hmmm
By ironargonaut on 10/10/2013 3:53:48 PM , Rating: 3
Funny, you mention N. Korea, the difference between N and S Korea is that N. Korea is communist, which is a different culture. What you are advocating is that the rest of the world also move to communism. You can't have 0 economic gradient w/o communism. By the way it has pretty much been shown by continuously supplying food to a country for free results in more able bodied men being able to do nothing except go to war, etc. Look at places where people are hungry and you will find a gov't that controls the food supply.


RE: Hmmm
By WLee40 on 10/10/2013 11:11:55 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. He has a point but with a bad solution and thought process. There is no stopping the growth of population in an advanced society with advancing lifespan and quality of healthcare. Not to mention the fact that everyone deserves a better quality of living that will increase resourse use. If every nation had the USA quality of living we would need several earths worth of resourses. We need to expand our energy technology so we can travel through space to populate other planets and eventually other star systems. If not because of population growth (which can be limited), but because of the inevitable changes earth will experience because of an asteroid impact, climate change(I'm talking natural cycles related to aging sun, changes in earth's tilt/orbit/magnetic field), or manmade disaster.


RE: Hmmm
By ironargonaut on 10/10/2013 3:59:36 PM , Rating: 2
If there is no stopping growth then how come the UN predicts the worlds population will start to decline in the near future. Do you have citation for the several earths of resources.
Why does everyone deserve a better quality of living? What about criminals? What about people who are just plain lazy?


RE: Hmmm
By w8gaming on 10/11/2013 4:54:30 AM , Rating: 2
If everyone has a better quality of life, there will be probably a lot fewer crimes in the first place. As for people being lazy, all modern men are lazier than its prehistoric counter part, when everyone has to spend most of their time foraging for food and wonder whether they will have enough to eat tomorrow. There is no reason not to improve technology to improve the quality of life, even if you feel there are people work less than others. The benefit will improve the quality of everyone, rich or poor. The day human decides technological advancement is no longer necessary, is the day when the whole specie has doomed themselves to extinction.


RE: Hmmm
By WLee40 on 10/11/2013 1:31:11 PM , Rating: 2
Well said Sir!


RE: Hmmm
By 91TTZ on 10/12/2013 10:08:26 AM , Rating: 2
Why must hardcore liberals personally attack those who express viewpoints that they don't agree with? What is liberal about crushing dissent?

It seems that when a person brings up questions about a liberal cause, instead of directly addressing the question liberals personally attack the person and mock them.


RE: Hmmm
By 91TTZ on 10/12/2013 10:06:06 AM , Rating: 2
Stop it with the immature posts.


RE: Hmmm
By Manch on 10/14/2013 5:27:53 PM , Rating: 2
no


RE: Hmmm
By JediJeb on 10/9/2013 3:24:02 PM , Rating: 4
We are far from overpopulated on the Earth presently. I have posted the calculations here before so I won't post them again but it comes out something like this.

If you take ever single person on the Earth right now, give them a 3,000 square foot house to live in, you can place all those houses side by side and fit them all on the land mass of Greenland. That leaves the entire rest of the Earth to use to grow food to feed those people.

The entire population of the Earth could easily double or triple and we could still have plenty of room and food for them if managed properly. To triple the population you have to have every male/female pair produce six children, but at the end of each generation you will also lose an equivalent number of people so you must sustain that birth rate to sustain the growth. Currently we are no where near producing six children for every two people on Earth. Think of it, if two million people(50% male/50%female)produce 6 million children you have 8 million people until the first generation dies then you are back down to 4 million, but the second generation has 18 million children but when they die you must subtract 6 million leaving only 12 million, so at the third generation you have only had a 4x growth in population.

Since three generations is usually equal to 60 years then to quadruple the Earths population you have to have ever couple produce six children for at least 40 of those years. Currently the Chinese are producing only about 1 child per couple, the Russians are at about the same rate and in the US it is maybe 2-3 children per couple. Russia and China at their rate will soon see reduced populations and in the US it will begin to hold steady, so the rest of the world is going to need to produce 8-10 children per couple to make the predictions of gross overpopulation within the next few centuries something to worry about.

No matter how much the doomsday forecasters want us to believe we will soon all be starving because of overpopulation, the numbers just don't add up. The reason people starve is more related to politics and poor management than mere population size. Also when giving these exaggerated predictions they boast about exponential birth rates, but never follow up with the exponential death rate that must follow until humans somehow discover the secret of immortality.


RE: Hmmm
By Manch on 10/9/2013 5:41:47 PM , Rating: 2
D@mn, you just b1tched slapped him with the HAND of SCIENCE!

Good read, thanks for that lol


RE: Hmmm
By 91TTZ on 10/12/2013 10:11:40 AM , Rating: 2
More immature posts. Please grow up and stop it.


RE: Hmmm
By Manch on 10/14/2013 5:28:34 PM , Rating: 2
never!


RE: Hmmm
By Jeffk464 on 10/9/2013 6:59:58 PM , Rating: 1
You realize you can't grow food on much of the worlds land right?


RE: Hmmm
By JediJeb on 10/9/2013 10:16:26 PM , Rating: 2
We could grow food on a lot of ground that is now being developed for housing and commercial operations. Also in the US, the government actually pays people to not use a huge portion of ground to produce food under the CRP program. Add in all the tillable ground that is tied up in parks and reserves across just the US and you have tons of ground to grow food on that is not being used now.

If you end all the fighting and corrupt politics across most of the African nations you would probably double the land that could be used for growing food easily. If everyone lived in one place like Greenland then there would be on competition for water to use for irrigation in the rest of the world which would also increase the amount of productive land available for food. It isn't so much a lack of ground for producing food, but a misuse of the land for other purposes which remove it from production just to sustain our current societies.


RE: Hmmm
By Mint on 10/9/2013 11:19:28 PM , Rating: 3
Returning to the topic at hand, there's so many solutions to all these problems (food, shelter, water, etc) that simply need cheap, limitless, clean energy.

This achievement by NIF is great news.


RE: Hmmm
By maugrimtr on 10/10/2013 8:43:56 AM , Rating: 2
Fusion would be an amazing advance and neatly solve any number of problems. It's also pretty essential in the long run. Whether we like it or not, fossil fuels are finite and demand is ever increasing. The vast majority of the planet's population have a tiny energy budget compared to the per capita requirement of nations like the US or our European cousins. It's an obviously unstable situation.

Renewables won't save us here - there's only so many places with sufficient wind, tidal movement, etc for that. Even solar is horribly inefficient - until we take it to space where the atmosphere is not a concern and invent a method of remote power transmission. The idea of biomass has already proven to make things worse. It's a political screwup by the Democrats that rewards the corn companies by penalising people who eat food (i.e. everyone). In this dystopian future of overpopulation some have mentioned, using arable land for fuel instead of food is clearly a stupid idea.

On the earlier points raised about using the rest of the planet for food, bear in mind that 70% of the planet is covered by water. About the only thing we do with it at the moment is hunt wild fish to the point of extinction (fish don't spawn in infinite numbers from magical seaweed patches). We can do better I'm sure - we should do, since we can't exploit all the available land. For example, we need a LOT of trees to generate the Oxygen we breath and most of those trees sit in the rainforests certain nations are cutting down at an insane rate for farmland.

So, having Congress or anyone else moan about a few billion being pumped into fusion power is just childish. Not that we can doubt most people already in Congress are 5 year olds...


RE: Hmmm
By ssj3gohan on 10/11/2013 5:49:31 AM , Rating: 2
Eh, you're right that there are 'only so many' places with enough renewable sources of power (wind, solar, etc.) - but all those places combined hold a couple orders of magnitude more practically obtainable energy than we currently consume. Renewables are totally possible as a future power source. If we only use a tiny fraction of our uncultivated land for wind or solar power, we're done. That's all you need. There is no shortage of energy, only a possible future shortage of easy energy.

However, if we are ever to be a type II civilization, we'll need fusion. No way around that.


RE: Hmmm
By Mint on 10/14/2013 4:42:12 AM , Rating: 2
Renewables don't have the cost floor nuclear fusion or fission, and will require energy storage and order of magnitude cheaper than it is today for it to become a real solution to replace natural gas.

There's one fusion idea (dense plasma focus) which could be extraordinarily cheap (< 10 cents per watt capital costs). Molten salt reactors (even using uranium) should become a reality in a decade, and they could dramatically cut costs. Now it looks like inertial confinement fusion is close to proving itself as well.


RE: Hmmm
By Reclaimer77 on 10/10/2013 1:44:33 AM , Rating: 2
Great post. Idiots like him also view food as a 1 to 1 growth to consumption ratio.

Developed countries throw away about half of all purchased foodstuffs. Annually!


RE: Hmmm
By 91TTZ on 10/12/2013 10:26:51 AM , Rating: 2
Why is that called for? Do you really need to personally insult those who express viewpoints that you disagree with Can't you address the point professionally instead of resorting to that?

It's a shame, because I often defend your points instead of piling on when other people insult you. You don't seem to very good at team building or gathering support. Instead, you piss people off to the point that they'll go out of their way to make your life difficult.


RE: Hmmm
By Skywalker123 on 10/10/13, Rating: -1
RE: Hmmm
By kattanna on 10/10/2013 10:48:17 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'd rather have the animals.


true.. they are FAR tastier then grains and produce

;>)


RE: Hmmm
By ironargonaut on 10/10/2013 4:15:23 PM , Rating: 2
You assume, too much. We could still feed that population w/o leveling mountains, etc.


RE: Hmmm
By WLee40 on 10/10/2013 1:17:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you take ever single person on the Earth right now, give them a 3,000 square foot house to live in, you can place all those houses side by side and fit them all on the land mass of Greenland. That leaves the entire rest of the Earth to use to grow food to feed those people.


Yeah, but you have to take into account space people need to move and get around. ie. car, sidewalks, streets, buses, airplanes. You also need to take into account business space for work and buying/selling things as well as industrial. A little too simplified...


RE: Hmmm
By WLee40 on 10/10/2013 1:23:28 PM , Rating: 2
I would venture a rough guess of about 1 acre per person or roughly 15x the amount of space you suggest.


RE: Hmmm
By ironargonaut on 10/10/2013 4:12:42 PM , Rating: 2
Yet, his calculation was simplified to begin with. 3k sqft per man, woman and child. Not family. So, he erred towards more area. One story houses not multiple, again and err towards more area. My cubicle is 6x8ft so 48sqft. Not exactly an acre.
So, lets say you double the land mass needed for arguments sake, put every on on Australia or Antartica. Same, basic principle.


RE: Hmmm
By Wazza1234 on 10/12/2013 3:00:30 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
To triple the population you have to have every male/female pair produce six children, but at the end of each generation you will also lose an equivalent number of people so you must sustain that birth rate to sustain the growth


Er, no. If you sustain that birth rate (1 couple producing 6 children) you will triple your population every generation. The 6 children already mean that the parents can both die and the population will still be tripled. If that happens two generations in a row you'll have 9x the population.

quote:
Think of it, if two million people(50% male/50%female)produce 6 million children you have 8 million people until the first generation dies then you are back down to 4 million, but the second generation has 18 million children but when they die you must subtract 6 million leaving only 12 million, so at the third generation you have only had a 4x growth in population.


Er, no, if two million people produce 6 million children and then the first generation dies, you'll be left with 6 million , not 4. And if those 6 million children (3 million couples) have 6 children each and then die - you will have 18m people left. So the worlds population would triple every generation.

quote:
Since three generations is usually equal to 60 years then to quadruple the Earths population you have to have ever couple produce six children for at least 40 of those years


Nope.

quote:
If you take ever single person on the Earth right now, give them a 3,000 square foot house to live in, you can place all those houses side by side and fit them all on the land mass of Greenland. That leaves the entire rest of the Earth to use to grow food to feed those people.


I checked this calculation as well, which is (shockingly) correct - the worlds population could fit on Greenland, if there was no space dedicated to roads, airports, hospitals, shops - in fact any kind of infrastructure. The problem is you also need to calculate how much agricultural land is required to sustain each person and compare that to the available fertile land. You also can't assume a perfectly efficient system, which you do when you state 'if managed properly'. Mismanagement is a fundamental fact of the human race, it's silly to disregard it in such an idealistic way. The fact is that billions of people would die of starvation if the worlds population tripled.


RE: Hmmm
By 91TTZ on 10/12/2013 10:21:03 AM , Rating: 2
Thank you for constructing a well-thought out post that didn't resort to insults.


RE: Hmmm
By akashi3 on 10/10/2013 2:39:37 AM , Rating: 1
Go and live in a cave then, as technological and scientific advancements throughout mankind history lead to more pollution, conflicts, and idiots like you who blame these advancements. Oh and don't invent anything while you live in a cave, it may cause you to live longer and consume more foods.


RE: Hmmm
By 91TTZ on 10/12/2013 10:28:16 AM , Rating: 2
There is absolutely no need to call me an idiot when all I did was express a viewpoint that you disagree with.


RE: Hmmm
By akashi3 on 10/29/2013 5:34:48 PM , Rating: 2
Oh you are still around? Why do you still live, should you practice what you preach? What a hypocrite.


RE: Hmmm
By Kiffberet on 10/10/2013 8:23:30 AM , Rating: 2
WTF are you smokin'?


RE: Hmmm
By Adonlude on 10/9/2013 2:45:18 PM , Rating: 2
Did somebody just read Inferno?


RE: Hmmm
By Yojimbo on 10/9/2013 6:14:43 PM , Rating: 2
Energy will be released? Do you really think the amount of direct heating of the atmosphere will be anything more than a drop in the bucket compared to the sun's radiation? That's the point about greenhouse gases. They intensify the warming effects of the sun's radiation. Humans don't tend to overpopulate. We seem to approach our resource limit rather softly. What exactly do you see to be the problem with your "overpopulation"? Poverty? Starvation? This energy will allow more low-income areas to be high income. Our prosperity and luxury today can be directly linked to the energy we are able to get from fossil fuels. To argue against the use of superior energy sources because you want to avoid urban sprawl is ridiculous, and I won't touch it except for one thing. If you want to avoid urban sprawl, the technology you should be against is the automobile, and the policy you should be against is the subsidation of roads. Inefficient houses and wasted energy, and being wasteful... You are complaining because you feel your personality will no longer be useful, that we will no longer gain much benefit from a compulsive efficiency? There will always be limitations from resources. We live in a finite universe. The gain from being stingy, however, will vary with conditions.


RE: Hmmm
By Reclaimer77 on 10/9/2013 11:18:38 PM , Rating: 2
Are you just a sociopath or an as$hole? I'm having a hard time deciding...


RE: Hmmm
By 91TTZ on 10/12/2013 10:30:10 AM , Rating: 2
You have absolutely horrible debating skills. Instead of replying with anything of substance, you go right for the person who said it and begin hurling insults.


RE: Hmmm
By JediJeb on 10/9/2013 3:03:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
There is no amount of money that wouldn't be worth it long term.


That just depends. If the total amount of money needed to develop the technology ended up costing more than could be recouped over 1000 years, would it still be worth it?

Achieving ignition doesn't guarantee anywhere near free energy available for the masses. If we do develop Fusion Energy but the operating cost comes out to be $5/KwH, would that ever benefit the lower income people of the world?


RE: Hmmm
By othercents on 10/9/2013 10:13:51 AM , Rating: 3
2015, Mr Fusion and flying cars.


RE: Hmmm
By Digimonkey on 10/9/2013 10:16:58 AM , Rating: 2
I'd settle for a hoverboard.


RE: Hmmm
By spamreader1 on 10/9/2013 2:36:57 PM , Rating: 3
with Power


RE: Hmmm
By purerice on 10/9/2013 12:19:01 PM , Rating: 2
We do and it costs $22,000 or about 6 orders of magnitude less than that reactor, and the fuel injector actually works for about 28mpg, but more people Opt For Civic


RE: Hmmm
By Jeffk464 on 10/9/2013 2:07:28 PM , Rating: 2
Mankind really needs this, solar and wind just ain't going to cut it. Chicks might also benefit.


RE: Hmmm
By Dtprodromos on 10/9/2013 2:48:37 PM , Rating: 2
Mankind really need this, as every possible way of energy production is a passport to human immortality. I used to think too, that solar won't cut it giving credit to so called experts. One day I looked accidentally at the numbers...
There's no bigger humiliation of modern societies than the fact, they are persuaded so called clean energy is not viable. Such a belief is a little less ridiculous than the flat-earth belief.


RE: Hmmm
By ironargonaut on 10/10/2013 4:20:23 PM , Rating: 2
source? Where does one "accidently" find numbers that are more trust worthy then experts?


RE: Hmmm
By ironargonaut on 10/10/2013 4:24:43 PM , Rating: 2
oh ya, and nice ad-hominem attack, said in haughty tone, if you do not believe what I believe then you are just as much an idiot as those who believe the earth is flat. Frankly, that last line tends to make me think you really don't have facts, otherwise why throw insults?


RE: Hmmm
By Nagorak on 10/10/2013 1:04:12 AM , Rating: 2
So, let me get this straight, solar and wind which are actually proven technologies that actually produce power aren't going to cut it. And your solution is a pipe dream that has not worked and may never work, despite billions spent on it. If the money that has been wasted on fusion research was redirect to wind and solar we'd probably be way further along at this point.

Solar panel costs have been plummeting. We're never going to see fusion power. Before that happens solar panels will be almost as cheap as toilet paper and we'll just plaster them everywhere.


RE: Hmmm
By Reclaimer77 on 10/10/2013 1:16:03 AM , Rating: 2
Solar and Wind don't "cut it" as far as large scale power generation. They are okay for supplementing existing large-scale power generation, but nothing more.

One fusion power plant could power entire cities, tens of thousands of homes, maybe a small country, while taking up no more land than a modern-day nuclear steam plant.

There's currently a global race to develop fusion power. I mean, no offense, but to believe EVERYONE involved are all idiots who should be focusing on wind or solar is pretty ballsy. What are your credentials again? Maybe there's a reason they aren't "plastering" solar panels everywhere? And no, it's not panel costs I assure you.

And wind is the worst option. It uses enormous amounts of land, and produces relatively little power. It's also completely at the mercy of uncontrollable natural forces.


RE: Hmmm
By JKflipflop98 on 10/17/2013 8:19:30 PM , Rating: 2
Well we don't really know that for sure. The only Mr. Fusion we saw was the Doc's, and he did say that he had already gone further into the future than 2015. It's possible he got Mr. Fusion while he was further ahead.


Sustained reaction?
By fatbaldandhappy on 10/9/2013 3:14:43 PM , Rating: 2
Did I miss something or isn't the point to use the external forces to start the reaction, and then sustain the reaction- so the output isn't from the single event of implosion but the sum total of the sustained reaction?




RE: Sustained reaction?
By Captain Orgazmo on 10/10/2013 1:11:35 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, this seems like a waste of time. If the whole point was only to achieve "ignition", why bother? Thermonuclear weapons have already proven that ignition is possible, 60 years ago. To turn this method into power generation, seems as unwieldy as using a fission bomb for the same effect.

It would seem that to use fusion for power generation, you would need a controlled, sustainable reaction. Raw power being blasted onto a tiny pellet is not the right path. Discovering some sort of catalyst to allow fusion at closer to natural conditions (temperature, pressure, etc.) is what is needed.


RE: Sustained reaction?
By Reclaimer77 on 10/10/2013 1:31:56 AM , Rating: 2
I'm a layman with a simple passion for physics, so this is just me rambling, but since stars are the only place we can actually observe sustained fusion reactions - I think that's a pretty good place to start.

Which is why I'm a fan - or whatever - of magnetic confinement fusion. It gives us the best chance to duplicate the ideal conditions for fusion reactions.

The method detailed in this article...not so much.


RE: Sustained reaction?
By Jaybus on 10/10/2013 1:59:29 PM , Rating: 2
Stars do not maintain fusion reactions by magnetic confinement either. In a star, confinement is due to gravity. So, we will never create a controlled fusion reactor that works like a star.


RE: Sustained reaction?
By Reclaimer77 on 10/10/2013 8:16:03 PM , Rating: 2
Well it's two sides of the same coin isn't it? The primary goal is to generate the sufficient heat to sustain a fusion reaction. In stars that heat is due to massive gravity creating pressure. Using magnetic confinement we can achieve critical temperatures with a different method.

If I was unclear, my bad. I didn't mean to imply the method exactly mimicked natural stars. Although it would be amazing if one day we developed the gravity field technology to make that possible!


RE: Sustained reaction?
By kattanna on 10/10/2013 11:03:49 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Did I miss something


no.

one of the biggest flaws in this method is that even if they do achieve a positive energy balance, the whole process does not lend itself to sustained commercial scale power.

its takes much work ahead of time to even do a test as the chamber is sealed, for obvious reasons. after each run, there is a cool down period required before the chamber can be re-opened and a new fuel pellet inserted. we are talking weeks here. which might be shortened, but is missing the point

the biggest problem with this center is that, originally, it was about testing high powered lasers.. not fusion. that was brought on to stave off cancellation and budgets cuts years ago. so now the center doesnt have its proper focus and is suffering accordingly.


Error
By YearOfTheDingo on 10/9/2013 12:06:48 PM , Rating: 4
Lawrence Livermore is not on the grounds of UC Berkeley. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is.




But but but
By Da W on 10/9/2013 10:23:46 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The pellet is coated in deuterium and tritium (so-called DT fuel), fusible hydrogen isotopes.


Dr. Octopus already used all the tritium available on earth.




le sigh
By pesos on 10/9/2013 7:51:57 PM , Rating: 2
Lawrence Livermore is in Livermore. Lawrence Berkeley is in Berkeley. Berkeley is spelled Berkeley.




LFTR would be a better investment
By mattclary on 10/9/2013 1:20:21 PM , Rating: 1
LFTR tech makes more sense and seems more reachable to me.




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