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Old 05-03-2013, 08:41 AM   #1
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Fusion Scientists See Progress

Interesting read:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-0...-correct-.html

“All great progress is made by unreasonable men"

Whatcha say DCF?
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Old 05-03-2013, 12:21 PM   #2
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I have serious doubts that this is going to happen. The problem is that creating the conditions for controlled fusion requires so much energy, I'm doubtful the scientists will even reach the break-even point, let alone come up with something which produces more power than it consumes.

Still, if they could even get a 1% return, it might make fusion viable. But I'm not gonna worry about it, cause it won't happen in my lifetime.
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Old 05-03-2013, 12:37 PM   #3
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While I think we're still pretty far off from this, I do believe it is possible. While the initial energy input requirements are astronomical, if they can start a sustained reaction, the payback time becomes readily measurable.

Every time I read about the plasma furnaces being used to incinerate landfill debris that produce enough "syngas" [largely hydrogen] to sustain its own operation once started, using no net additional input of energy, I think of fusion.
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Old 05-03-2013, 12:46 PM   #4
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I'd have to agree with the "unreasonable men" meme.

NIF is never going to make power, ever. It really was just greenwash on the nuke upkeep program - a way to make tests that don't violate some treaties we'd rather not - because if we do...who knows who else will be emboldened. It's taken my entire life for background radiation from the atmospheric tests to get somewhere back to normal - most of us grew up with twice normal exposure from those.
I'd rather not go back there. Nukes degrade over time, and obviously you want confidence they'll work when needed - that's what NIF and other programs were meant to insure, along with getting new data that might make designing "better" ones possible.

ITER - well, I could go on and on, but the tokomak boys (this isn't the only one) have been saying just give us another few bill and another decade and they are there.
We are on the ~4th go-around on that - I'd have fired them all on #2, frankly.

Funny thing about ITER. The figured out that they had to use DT fuel (two isotopes of hydrogen) to get to gain (maybe, maybe even with that they won't). There's no natural T around, so they'd have to breed that - nasty, very radioactive and bioactive gas. Anyway, the REAL problem they face is that the DT reaction makes 14 megavolt energy neutrons, which simply take things like stainless steel (not to mention superconducting magnet windings) apart in a very short time by just bashing the atoms out of the metallic lattice, or in layman's terms - turning metal into powder. They figured this well known phenomena (in other nuclear work) out after only a few tens of billions, and work since the 60's or so. OOPS! They've kind of shut down while they try and figure out a new design that wouldn't have this problem, and are looking at (what I consider) stupid things - like a chamber made of spinning liquid lithium to hopefully absorb enough neutrons to protect the outside stuff. Trouble is, the Li will also evaporate and get into their mix, and inhibit fusion...
Shorter - they are screwed. But various governments are excited about getting some T out of this - it's part of any thermonuclear weapon design, and decays with a half-life of 12 years. In practice, this means you gotta take your nuke apart every couple years to replace it...how often vs how much yield loss is why NIF existed - they thought if they really knew, it'd save money and risk in the long run.

No other methodology is getting much if any funding - it's almost "supression" but I kind of doubt it's anything but being stupid. U of Wisconson has a program they fund from other money, and it's pretty good, doing fusor type work as I do - they are my only competition. I'm beating them in Q right now, they are doing some great things in total output and instrumentation I can't do here - and we share results like good scientists should. But we're a long way from breakeven. As that meme says - you gotta be a little crazy to think the 10^4 improvement we need/want is possible.

I'm more than a little nuts. I think I found a way to get it, and have already gotten factor 500 (out of 10k we need) in tests, which is how I beat U-Wis (they have 20 times my output, but have to put in 500 times more power to get it). Diagnostics I've done on that show me that all I managed was to convert from "always wrong spin" of the reactants, to "random". I think "always right" might just do the trick, assuming the spin conservation laws propounded in the '30s by W Pauli are right (and they are, for everything else, but have been completely ignored by ALL fusion researchers but me).

I'm right now building a setup that will let me test/prove this thesis, which requires no violation of the widely accepted standard model laws - it's all tech, not science - but it's difficult tech, kind of like a super electron microscope with added constraints, for D. I expect to have testing going within a year (it's not as if I have 8 hours a day to do it, it'd be a lot faster if I did). If I can even prove I can affect the ratios of the three possible DD reactions (one of which makes no neutrons and outputs hot helium only and a gamma ray, easy to harvest) - that's near-Nobel turf, no one else has even thought to try - they are all "thermal/random" crazy. It's like thinking you can win with a high-firepower weapon even if you can't aim it. Duh.

NIF, meanwhile - O's going to get his way and shut it down almost certainly. Whether he should or not, I don't know. We really do need the nuke stewardship program to keep credible to get to disarmament, but that's getting into a realm that's political and outside my expertise.

Something that complex that tries to make power with a series of rather large bangs is going to run into trouble - that was never really their goal, for what they actually want, they only need a few a year, not a few a second. Imagine the stress failures of whatever holds those bangs....it's just not going to fly with the materials or metamaterials we know of now. The bangs involved aren't the nice controlled burn you get in a gasoline engine, these are the "real deal".


Might be worth looking into if we get to some new wonder material - in fact, that's how I used to be a profitable inventor - some new thing, say NeFeB magnets, comes around, and I go and think "now what used to be impossible or difficult that I can now do easy with this?" Often I get there first, because most people aren't as inter-disciplinary as I am and it takes awhile to connect the dots. So for example, I was the first with a permanent magnet miniature cyclotron design that solves a ton of problems for users - the entire thing goes easily into the vacuum tank, instead of having to have a big round but flat tank in the magnet field, making the required magnets smaller - nature is going my way on that. The configuraton solves most all the tough problems in cyclotrons (used in hospitals to make the junk they inject you with for pet scans and rads for cancer stuff), like drive level required so the spiral is coarse enough to miss the beam ejection plates - mine doesn't need high drive for that, nor does it even need beam ejection to do what's required, I can let it hit the walls and get what's wanted. And on and on. Many tons of steel and water cooled copper become a couple magnets and iron pole pieces you can hold in one hand at arms length without getting tired fast, for example.
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Old 05-03-2013, 02:00 PM   #5
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I go all weak when Fusor starts giving us a tech talk
and read slowly to -

try and take it all in
make the experience last

I guess most of us rarely get beyond the 'con' part of fusion (-:
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Old 05-03-2013, 02:30 PM   #6
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Fusion is interesting. In most reactions, none of the stuff changes identity, it just becomes more tightly bound per nucleon, and the difference is the output energy.

You don't necessarily HAVE to put in a ton of energy. The way most do it (thermal), yes, you do. That's because the energy input is thermalized, and with the laws of thermodynamics (which do have a few small issues) all that input energy splits up evenly into all 6 degrees of freedom - translation over X,Y,Z, and rotation around all three. When all you actually need is to get these self-repelling things close enough together for long enough for quantum tunneling to take you into fusion - the resulting nucleous being in a lower energy state, and energy likes to "roll downhill".

So if you can limit your energy input to one axis - translation in say, X (colliding beams) then that's factor 6 improvement right there. There's a lot more to it of course - it's hard to focus a beam of particles that repel each other to a tight beam - unlike photons, they push themselves apart (which is why your old-style TV went out of focus when you turned up the brightness).

Further, how close they have to be for how long depends on how much they "want" to fuse - spin must be conserved for example, and it's kind of a trick to prepare charged particles of just the right spin *before* you put in that energy to accelerate them.

By what I've said, it's easy to see where there are 3 DD reactions (D is a proton and a neutron, common stuff, not radioactive).
One is DD-> He3 + neutron (same number of everything, but two reaction products
Another DD -> T + proton (same deal, just a different combo of outputs)

Both of the above are roughly 50/50 in prevalence in thermal situations. They are much more common than the DD -> He4 (normal helium) because He4 is spin zero and D is spin 2. The more common reactions have two things to carry off spin, so are easier to get to go...to make this last one happen is more of a trick. But since it's fully bound He4 at the output, this reaction also puts out 4x (rough number) the energy of the other two - those put out about 3.5 MeV, the last puts out ~16Mev (for the same input energy).

You know, all these little factors of 100 and 6 and 4 start to add up, at least if you're a dreamer like me, and see 10,000 as not that huge an obstacle. To run my fusor presently (lousy reaction rate, but still world beating for now) I'm only putting in 50kv tops...and per reaction getting on average 3.5 mev...but most of the things I'm shooting at each other simply miss at present, or are in a spin state that can't fuse.

That's what I plan to fix as soon as I can. Thermal fusion is like trying to create car crashes with random directions, or sometimes so stupid as all in the same direction - on a highway, you don't have very many crashes because everyone is going the same way...

Ions (w/o electrons on them) are truly tiny...so most even colliding beam fusion is kind of like shooting shotguns at one another at 100 yds and hoping some pellets hit.
Now, if you took two funnels and put them point to point and shot them.....you get the idea, there's a lot of low hanging and unexplored stuff out there.
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Old 05-03-2013, 07:02 PM   #7
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pmbug.com . Goldmart reviews to Nuclear Fusion all in one website. Fascinating.
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Old 05-03-2013, 07:07 PM   #8
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We're a diverse group of good people here, to be sure. We have a lot in common in our basic outlooks, but different expertise. It's good to share, IMO.

When two guitar players swap licks - they both go away better, no one loses. That's a simple case. Here we look at paradigms, ways of looking at the world, and share what we know, because you just never know - some clue from over there might help you figure out something over here, seemingly unrelated till you connect the dots.
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:57 PM   #9
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...and it is all just plain fecking interesting!!!


Thanks Fusor, I was lucky enough to got very good teachers in my lifetime, up to a high school (none of them with your expertise, but still good people at the required level) level, - and if I came across somebody like you in my college time, I think my passion for knowledge at that level would even grow back then, instead of dwindle.

...Never to late to fill the holes in my brain a bit, I suppose
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