DailyDirt: Baby Steps Towards Fusion Reactors

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Fusion is always just 30 years away, but we seem to be actually making some progress after decades of building huge superconducting magnets that will probably be impractical for producing net energy. We've seen Lockheed Martin and a bunch of fusion energy startups claiming to be able to control a fusion reaction in less than 30 years, but economically generating energy is still a distant milestone. After you've finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.

Filed Under: big science, energy, fusion, fusion reactor, plasma, stellarator, tokamak, wendelstein 7-x, yc research
Companies: helion energy, y combinator


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 5:28pm

    all we need is solar, really.

    Solar should be good enough, actually. We just need to figure out how to store solar energy. Damn battery technology.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 5:32pm

      Re: all we need is solar, really.

      If you use a Solar Updraft Tower with Saltwater base for thermal storage, you could have 24 hour a day generation. If you put them offshore say in California waters, it would increase humidity and rainfall for hundreds of miles downwind.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_updraft_tower

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 3:22pm

      Re: all we need is solar, really.

      We just need to figure out how to store solar energy. Damn battery technology.

      I came across this recently, apparently saltwater batteries are a real thing! And Aquion Energy is a real manufacturer (as opposed to battery technologies that are only in the lab and might come out in 20 years).

      They're still kind of pricey, but they're a fairly new company paying off their R&D and new manufacturing plant so I can wait.

      But I mean, saltwater, what could be cheaper than that!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2015 @ 7:53am

      Re: all we need is solar, really.

      Management of solar energy is mostly already solved, and has been since the premordial ooze. The question is not one of storage, but of management.

      The permaculture hippies are right on that particular subject. They typically don't know why they're right, but they _are_ right. Probably 2/3rd of what we conceive of as an energy storage problem, is instead an entropy management problem.

      Economics isn't about dollars. It is about Watts. Economists generally study dollars instead of watts, which is how you can tell the difference between a sports coach in the game of finance, and a scientist.

      "The human body generates more bioelectricity than a 120-volt battery." -- The Matrix

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    OldMugwump (profile), 9 Dec 2015 @ 6:39pm

    A giant jobs program for unemployed physicists

    After all, we know how to make fission reactors that work fine.

    Nobody wants to build any, but if we really need the power we know how.

    Not only do we have no clue how to build a practical fusion power reactor, we don't have any need for fusion power.

    We have plenty of power sources as it is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 6:51pm

      Re: A giant jobs program for unemployed physicists

      I volunteer to take all of the nuclear "waste" and turn it into energy over the next 50 years. Thorium reactors would eat the waste from the current generation of reactors and give you energy as a result.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      alternatives(), 9 Dec 2015 @ 11:45pm

      Re: A giant jobs program for unemployed physicists

      After all, we know how to make fission reactors that work fine.

      Chernyobyl and Fukushima are examples of "fine working" - right?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 10 Dec 2015 @ 12:21am

        Re: Re: A giant jobs program for unemployed physicists

        Chernobyl was an OLD design that should have never been made. Modern designs don't have those troubles. And the problem with Fukushima was WHERE they built rather than WHAT they built.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 5:21am

          Re: Re: Re: A giant jobs program for unemployed physicists

          Point being, they were built.

          At the time of their construction it is most likely they were hailed as being indestructible whilst hushing critics, some being scientists, who claimed the safety features were insufficient.

          Guess what happened next.

          Why not build upon a known fault line, what's the worst that could happen - right?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 6:38am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: A giant jobs program for unemployed physicists

            "hailed as being indestructible"

            Much like the Titanic

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 5:24am

          Re: Re: Re: A giant jobs program for unemployed physicists

          Oh yeah ... what they built was a crappy cooling system run on electricity. I wonder what happens when the electricity is wiped out by a tsunami.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            JoeCool (profile), 10 Dec 2015 @ 9:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: A giant jobs program for unemployed physicists

            The cooling system was fine and had backup generators. However, there is almost nothing that can stand up to a Tsunami... certainly not a backup generator. They needed to heed the warnings left by the people after the last Tsunami and not build below the Tsunami water line clearly marked around the area. What good is a warning when it's not heeded?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 11:26am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A giant jobs program for unemployed physicists

              What's wrong with a gravity feed safety system, other than it is an added cost?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 12 Dec 2015 @ 7:35am

          Re: Re: Re: A giant jobs program for unemployed physicists

          Chernobyl was an OLD design that should have never been made.

          It's not that it was an old design, it was designed with producing weapons grade material as a higher priority than safety. When the coolant system failed, the reaction continued, which is prevented by safer designs.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 4:25am

    oh YES
    the environmental disposal of nuclear waste and the disaster insurance
    are already in the pricing equation... RIGHT?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2015 @ 4:26am

    after the managerial revolution
    it will always be unsafe to run a nuclear plant for profit

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Peter John, 10 Dec 2015 @ 9:48am

    Fusion funding

    Spend the money. Use the shotgun approach. Spend a lot of money. 1/3 to just ideas. 1/3 to experiments. 1/3 to prototypes. You review the ideas and fund the best ideas. You review the experiments and fund the best ones. And the same with the prototypes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 12 Dec 2015 @ 7:36am

    Baby

    Baby Steps Towards Fusion Reactors

    Why is a baby anywhere near the fusion reactors in the first place?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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