Saturday, April 28, 2007

More fusion

Via Strange Stuff and Peter Risdon, there has been another breakthrough in nuclear fusion (separate from Dr Bussard's hot fusion breakthrough last year).
This achievement has been described as "amazing" and "the biggest breakthrough in energy generation in decades". It seems to indicate that no scientific hurdle stands in the way of nuclear fusion. Just 5-7 years of engineering and configuring about 60 next generation linear transformer drivers. Then refining the system for commercial use starting in 20 years or less. All the pieces are now ready and proven, we just need to put them together for commercial nuclear fusion.

As regular readers of The Kitchen will know, your humble Devil is a firm believer that technology will save us from any global catastrophe that may or may not be threatened. As it happens, I don't believe in the apocalytic vision that is being painted by the global warming scientists, but I do think that we should work to stop burning hydrocarbons—for both supply and political reasons.

Apart from anything else, the effect of our not needing to buy massive oil supplies will be a severe depletion of the influence of the Middle East. And, as I discussed some time ago in a Wanabehuman article, hopefully that will lead to a serious amount of liberalisation in that benighted area. And, coincidentally, easing the problem of the funding of radical Islam.

So, frankly, the day that we crack viable fusion power—the Holy Grail of power generation—the better.

Of course, another thing that is worth noticing is that none of the really exciting, radical breakthroughs are happening because of the EU. The zinc oxide power stations are tested in Israel and funded and researched by Swiss companies; the Fusor breakthrough in December was funded by the US government and this latest breakthrough has happened as a result of a collaboration between Russia and the US based Sandia Institute.

So, what price the EU's Lisbon Agenda?


Roger Thornhill said...

Thanks for the heads-up. The numbers are amazing - USD35m. Compare that to the vast blunders of NHS IT or even keeping fatty Prescott in pies.

This is good - we now have two possible routes - LTD and IEC. Fund both in the UK but in a race which will keep 'em lean and mean. Cheap at 100x the price. Once nailed, we have the expertise and begin supplying people with power stations in a nice export business.

Bag said...

Come on. everybody is good at something. Israelis, US, Swiss even. The EU is good at generating Red Tape. You always need some administrators to keep the books straight. Oh wait! Maybe that isn't such a good idea after he books not being signed off again.

We are doomed.

chris said...

The current best reactor, at about 70% of break even, is JET in Oxfordshire. At some time after 1016 (it will be delayed) the $6billion Iter project in the south of France might be able to surpass it. The problem with Iter is that it is so expensive it sucks money out of any other avenue.

Personally I would prefer smaller grants to a greater number of projects. Spheromacs like MAST, also in Oxfordshire. EIC or Dr Bussard's Electrodynaic Inertial Confinement, which he claims to need $5million to get past break even and start actually generating power. Lazer or particle beam Interial Confinement might still have potential. And while the Z machine is at the moment a long way from break even then that too could do with more research as a reactor rather than a nuke simulator. Maybe sonofusion should have more research as well, if only to see whether it is snake oil or not. You can build an EIC device for a few grand, so anybody that gets that to get above break even (but there are some big obsticles to this) would make an absolute mint.

chris said...


While Iter is being built in France it is not an exclusively EU project either. The EU is involved as atomic power is an EU competence through EURATOM but there is also putting in financing the USA, Japan (where the numbers it produces will get crunched), South Korea, Russia, India, and China.