Claim: Brexit an "Existential Threat" to Advanced Nuclear Fusion Research

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Professor Ian Chapman, chief of the UK Atomic Energy Authority is worried the Brexit negotiation standoff between Britain and the EU poses a threat to the vast multi-decade, multi-billion dollar ITER Nuclear Fusion project.

Nuclear industry acts on ‘no deal’ Brexit as MPs plot Euratom rebellion

The UK’s nuclear chief says leaving Euratom is an “existential threat” to the industry, as MPs plan to amend the EU exit bill.

By Faisal Islam, Political Editor

The British nuclear industry is activating plans to relocate some nuclear material and components around Europe, Sky News understands.

The move comes in anticipation of a failure to replace the UK’s existing trading arrangements with Europe and the globe before Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.

Executives are now planning for potential legal barriers to the highly controlled movement of nuclear parts and materials into and out of the United Kingdom after Brexit.

Leading figures speaking privately to Sky News have complained of “no visibility” that full arrangements will be in place by 2019 to replace existing arrangements under the Euratom nuclear safety treaty and related third country treaties – and are “planning for a world where that doesn’t happen”.

In the Article 50 letter, the UK signalled its desire to leave Euratom at the same time as leaving the European Union.

The industry was also adamant that there is a serious issue about the supply of medical isotopes, a byproduct of the continental European nuclear industry, critical for cancer treatments.

The Government has dismissed fears over their supply as “scaremongering” but industry figures pointed out that their supply and transport is governed by the rules of the Nuclear Common Market and they are materials mentioned in the annexe of the Euratom treaty.

Professor Ian Chapman chief of the UK Atomic Energy Authority told Sky News: “Leaving Euratom is absolutely an existential threat for us as an organisation, about two thirds of my turnover comes from the European Commission.

“So we have to find a resolution so we can continue to do the world-class cutting-edge science that we do here.”

Read more:

There is something terribly Soviet about the ITER project. The project timescales are measured in decades, for example the first Deuterium Tritium burn is not scheduled to occur until 2035, assuming the deadline doesn’t slip.

If ITER scale projects turn out to be the only path to viable nuclear fusion, assuming it ever works, fusion will remain uneconomical for the foreseeable future.

Fortunately there are a number of smaller teams, including several US based private companies, which are exploring potentially far more affordable approaches to achieving commercial Nuclear Fusion.

US based IPP Fusion, a small maverick startup whose unconventional approach to confining Fusion plasmas has created a lot of excitement recently, is no fan of ITER.

September 23, 2013

Open letter on fusion

We, the undersigned scientists, urge that the United States, the European Union and Japan fund a much broader fusion energy research effort, expanding the program to include a large number of promising devices and fusion fuels in order to maximize the chances of getting economical fusion power as soon as possible.

The present international fusion effort is focused almost exclusively on a single device, the tokamak, and a single version of that device, the ITER experiment. We believe that near-exclusive focus is a mistake. We do not yet know if ITER will lead to an economical fusion generator. We do not yet know which of the many fusion devices now being researched will work, which will be fastest to achieve or which will produce the most economical energy. So a focus on a single experiment is not the surest and fastest way to fusion power.

We therefore strongly urge the US Congress and the European and Japanese parliaments to immediately hold hearings on the direction of the international fusion program, looking at the wisdom of a much broader-based program. Such hearings could be the first step to legislation allocating an additional at least $300 million per year to research on alternative fusion approaches, devices and fuels.

Read more:

Upsetting the ITER team is not a reason to change course on Brexit. Even if the ITER project finally delivers better than breakeven power, in 2035 or beyond, the sheer cost and longevity of the ITER project in my opinion will mark ITER as the gravesite of commercial nuclear fusion, not the herald of a new age of unlimited clean energy.

The only hope for viable commercial fusion in any of our lifetimes is for small teams of mavericks like IPP to explore the road less travelled.

IPP’s explanation of their approach to Nuclear Fusion. Note I am NOT specifically endorsing IPP Fusion. Their approach seems promising, but the history of Fusion research is littered with promising ideas which never delivered.

127 thoughts on “Claim: Brexit an "Existential Threat" to Advanced Nuclear Fusion Research

  1. They are obviously lining up their excuses for why fusion is still twenty years away after decades of predicting that it was just twenty years away.

      • You took the words roght out of my fingertips, Hans. It is (not really) incredible how ITER has just become a behemoth of inertia. But this is a European Project. The letter writers are correct to call for diverse projects but ITER is sucking up all the efforts.

      • Fusion WILL always be 20 years away unless or until a viable process is Stumbled Upon. Focusing funding on a single process will almost always prove fruitless
        Or the Headline
        Focused Funding Finds Fusion Fruitless

      • Way back when I was with a nuclear fuel manufacturer the joke was a reference to the Fusion Constant: Commercialization was always 20 year away.

      • I didn’t see any where some proof that any of these schemes is even theoretically possible.
        And I wish they would stop telling us that the sun and the stars are powered by fusion energy.
        They are all powered by gravitation.
        Gravitation sucks, so you just need to put enough mass of fuel in a pile and it turns on all by itself; in fact if you have enough fuel, you can’t stop it from working.
        But you need a pile of fuel somewhat more massive than a brown dwarf star.
        We don’t have room for that here on earth.
        The only other force under our control is the Coulomb force and unfortunately it doesn’t suck: it blows, and you always need another layer outside of whatever layer you now have trying to push everything together. There is no end to the confinement layers, all of which simply blow apart.
        Meanwhile, we already have petroleum and coal, which can both create heat energy in a usable form.
        We should use what we already have.

    • Eric, The concept of Focus Fusion has been around quite a while. The head of LPP has been working on it for over 30 years. Yes, funding has always been a problem. Using boron helps keep a neutron lean environment, a good thing. LPP can reach the temp necessary, but has a major problem with plasma density. They have a problem with plasma contamination from the materials they use for construction, A couple of years ago, I had lunch with Will Happer. I brought up LPP’s work. From memory, he thought the concept stands a chance. He would not much else. I had the feeling he was being polite.

      • LPPFusion has achieved on of the best results today with a lifetime budget of only $5 M… A lot of work into achieving the densities for fusion and an upgraded design is being installed with light metal electrodes that are slightly reconfigured, as well as new reactor coatings, pre-heating and desiccation procedures that have been experimentally tested.
        Output of 3 billion degrees C for a few nano-seconds was reached without even the planned deuterium-boron fuel … sort of like testing a high-performance engine with lighter fluid. Perhaps by the Spring 2018 we’ll see if the density can be reached for ignition. It’s not a huge step away.

  2. “By Faisal Islam”
    You only need to see those three little words to know that ill-thought out anti-Brexit, anti-Conservative, ceaselessly negative drivel will ensue. He might as well work for the BBC or the Guardian.

    • Mr Rossi Launches in November.

      WOW! Kewl.
      Rossi is getting close.
      10 years ago, he was 6 months out from demonstrating his prototype.
      5 years ago, he was 3 months out.
      Now, he is just one month out.
      Of course:
      3 years ago, he was 2 months out, Then:
      2 years ago, something happened with the investors, and he was pushed out to 6 months out, all over again.
      If you like this sort of thing, years back, in the US, daytime television featured shows with all kinds of plot twists and turns, and never ended, and never came to any resolution or conclusion.
      These shows were called Soap Operas.

    • ROFL is that fraud still going on. I thought all the promoters were all litigating each other trying to recover the money they lost as they finally worked out they had been very silly.

  3. Most all of the EU initiatives are staffed and managed by mediocre paper-pushers, and always end up in generating 200 page reports that talk about the challenges to progress. The 3 big challenges are
    1) We don’t have enough of other peoples money
    2) We don’t have the authority to disregard the sovereignty of member nations and impose endless regulations for the greater good
    3) We must always conduct our affairs with the goal of being inclusive by race, religion, national origin, gender, and with account of the impact on climate change, and these goals are far more important than just getting the job done

  4. The biggest threat to nuclear fusion, at least in Europe, are “greens” and renewable so-called energy, my niece was going to do research into nuclear power, but are there any grants for that? No, she is now researching better wind turbines, partly because that is the only area with money, and partly due to brainwashing in academia. Even if fusion works, greenflies will sniffle it with regulations and fear-mongering.

  5. I’m a long-time reader of your site. I was also part of the ITER team from 1987 to 1997; I led safety design and analysis for most of that time. I hold bachelors, masters, and doctorate in nuclear engineering from MIT, have 57 peer-reviewed journal articles, and 3 book chapters. Of course upsetting ITER is not a reason not to Brexit, just as upsetting ITER was not a reason to stop the collapse of the USSR. ITER survived USSR to Russia; it will survive Brexit. It almost didn’t survive US political insanity as the US has left and rejoined ITER twice. As to fusion in general and ITER in particular. Fusion, by any approach, has proven to be far more difficult than anyone imagined. It is good that people consider new ideas as they might shorten the path. A good test of whether the new idea has promise is whether it worsens or lightens the challenge to advanced materials. Most make that problem worse as exchange for APPEARING to make the physics easier. I don’t know if the tokamak mainline approach represented by ITER will lead to power plants. I do know that ITER could have been operating by now with stable, long-lasting, and large government R&D funding – the speed is not set by physics, it is set by politicians – just as large cathedrals construction is set by funding not the understanding of how to build them. I do know to be cautious of alternatives to mainlines; they might work, they might provide bites of excellence that will improve mainlines; but they most frequently miss important realities. Often those realities involve material science and engineering.

    • “…stable. ..large government…funding”
      Yeah, that’s all it takes, for sure… (delivery just post retirement party for the check cashers…) ; sarc/
      Thus the $ Trillions of government debt and unfunded mandates….
      There comes a time when the taxpaying turnip has no blood left… that usually results in bloodletting of a different kind. Perhaps reducing the bloodsucking and adding more creativity in getting to goal is better.

    • Great to hear from someone with in-depth knowledge. If you have time for that, would you consider writing a more detailed post about ITER and the alternatives? I would think that Anthony would entertain it.

      • Some of the alternatives include EMC2, which is a continuation of the Polywell and Farnsworth Fusor programs:
        Then there is the Tri-Alpha effort:
        An organization called “General Fusion” has its own program running:
        There are more, but I believe WattsUp has a link limit. Of course there is the Lockheed-Martin project and LPP Fusion as mentioned in the article.
        If instead of asking for more money like this from the article:
        “Such hearings could be the first step to legislation allocating an additional at least $300 million per year to research on alternative fusion approaches, devices and fuels.” The US DOE could cut the funding from ITER and distribute that savings to the alternatives, there might actually be some progress.

      • ” dan no longer in CA October 14, 2017 at 7:49 am
        The US DOE could cut the funding from ITER and distribute that savings to the alternatives, there might actually be some progress. ”
        Or redirect all the money thrown away on fake climate scares (ACGW). Brussard at one point was looking for $250 million (or 1/2 a Solyndra as I like to view it) but couldn’t get it despite good progress on a shoestring budget ($50 million navy funding I believe).
        I have nothing against ITER except a lack of results but given the problem they are working on it is understandable. I am against putting all eggs in one basket.

    • Steven, with all of those erudite qualifications and publications it would be reasonable to expect that you might have learned at least something about paragraph structure.
      I’m just sayin’ you know.

    • Good to have a nuclear physicist here. Two questions:
      1) What is the future for Thorium reactors? The Chinese are going all in on it and the need for fusion should be killed dead by it.
      2) What do you make of radiation hormesis, such as experienced by the 1980’s Taiwan apartment block dwellers.(97% reduction of all forms of cancer IIRC?) The most recent USA medical appeal for review of the radiation standards is 2016 if I recall. There may be miniscule dangers from using fission reactors such as using Thorium.

      • Please no insults – I am a nuclear engineer, not a physicist. I solve problems, not just study theory. 🙂 Radiation hormesis – i agree with. Many substances (most?) are poisonous in large amounts and required in small amounts. All but 2 of the things in my daily vitamin pill are poisonous in large amounts; all are required in small amounts. As one biologist told me – life has evolved to take advantage of every possible energy source on earth; it would be strange if life didn’t find a way to take advantage of ionizing radiation. Thorium – I’ve published on nuclear fission fuel cycles. Thorium/U233 and Uranium/Pu239 fuel cycles have similar problems. Thorium is not a panacea for nuclear issues. U233 is an excellent bomb material and harder to detect in commerce than Pu239. If I were a bad guy, i’d prefer to have U233 to work with. The fuel cycles have similar waste management issues. The wonderful thing the Chinese are doing is investigating molten salt as the operating fluid. The US led that effort decades ago, and solved the key problems, but of course has not followed up. A molten salt reactor (whether Thorium/U233 or Uranium/Pu239) would have several advantages; it has the disadvantage of requiring more R&D. Long-term fission waste management is greatly addressed by recycling the actinides in the fuel (whether Thorium/U233 or Uranium/Pu239); countries with far-sighted nuclear energy programs do so, or are planning to do so. The US isn’t. I support the “all of the above” energy policy – nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, natural gas, coal with scrubbers, wind/solar where they make sense. Most of the world is poor; they deserve vastly increased energy sources.

      • Thank you Steven. I find myself 100% on board with your feedback. I am an amateur though, as my nuclear engineering is 30 years old.
        I must admit that I was totally astounded at the beneficial effects of low level gamma radiation.(Taiwan apartment blocks) On the surface, every woman who has a pre disposition to breast cancer should be allowed to have a “hot” bath at a spa on a frequent basis. A revolution in medical thinking will be required to get there.

    • It was a bicycle builder who invented the airplane with no government funding. What’s wrecked modern physics and progress is string theory. Perhaps less devotion to unworkable ideas and more practical solutions is necessary. Nuscale and others have some great ideas for safer, cleaner fission. Commercial fusion is a never ending unworkable pipe dream. Good luck with that.

    • Dr. Piet: As a casual observer of government in action, I have my doubts that we will ever get a positive return on investment wrt nuclear fusion. Has anyone made an economic study that discounts future value and compares it with current expenditures? And with the fission reactors?

    • So the only reason we don’t have fusion, right now, is because we haven’t spent enough money on it.
      It has nothing to do with the myriad of technical problems that haven’t been solved and may never be solved.
      It’s all do to you not having enough OPM.

  6. Who cares anyway. What these guys fail to understand is that most brexiteers would rather live in caves and eke out an existence nibbling lichen from the rocks than be ruled over by the evil Brussels Politburo.

    • most brexiteers would rather live in caves and eke out an existence nibbling lichen from the rocks

      I am an American. Last time anybody took that attitude with us, we kicked them out and developed into the strongest, toughest nation on the planet. Maybe that is what nibbling lichen does for you.
      From their National Anthem:

      Hail Britannia
      Never Be The Slave

      If you still do not understand, I am happy to entertain questions.

      • Tony: Good for you. And most Americans do not recall (if they were ever taught) de Toqueville’s comments about what made Americans different: Independent individuals.

      • TonyL, my understanding of cephus0‘s comment doesn’t appear to be the same as your understanding of said.
        Me thinks he is pro-brexiteer, …….. not anti-brexiteer.

      • Good grief, confusion much. Confound their politics, frustrate their knavish tricks 🙂
        The National Anthem:

        Rule Britannia:

    • cephus0
      “………..most brexiteers would rather live in caves and eke out an existence nibbling lichen from the rocks than be ruled over by the evil Brussels Politburo.”
      I voted leave and I will stand by my principles even if I’m nibbling lichen from the rocks.

    • In what passes for your mind, those are the only two options?
      I love the way left wingers equate improvement with their having more power over other people, and how anyone who doesn’t want them running everything is some kind of Neanderthal.

    • “What these guys fail to understand is that most brexiteers would rather live in caves and eke out an existence nibbling lichen from the rocks than be ruled over by the evil Brussels Politburo.”
      Oh dear, yet another poor loser Remainiac!
      I would have thought on WUWT we might have been free of this particular troll infestation, but apparently not.
      Get this sunshine, WE won, YOU lost, grow up and live with it.

  7. A huge waste of taxpayers money. They should have set a funding limit and a time limit and made it clear that private enterprise should take over when those limits were reached. This would have concentrated the efforts in areas most likely to be cost effective. You cannot just keep throwing taxpayers money at things like this . It’s stupid and wasteful. Only marginally more stupid and wasteful as building large cathedrals. Though we have no personal objection to a cathedral as large as Benders statue PROVIDED the congregation pay for it themselves voluntarily.
    Governments should spend taxpayers money very carefully and mainly on things of proven benefit and known costs. Speculative stuff should generally be left to private enterprise.

    • Let me explain something about ITER. Politics. We started as a result of the Reagan-Gorbachev summit. Then Japan and Europe got into the game and for a long time there were 4 equal partners. In theory, that would mean each country would get 4x on its investment. Nope. There was duplication that the central team (including me) could not get the partners to give up; we could not force them. There was some poor quality work in certain places. So, several us figured the US got 2x on our investment. It may have dropped more since i left in 1997. The political interference was … impressive. Example, for many years the political geniuses put 1/3 of the central team in California, 1/3 in Japan, and 1/3 in Germany because they could not agree on a single location. We were 8, 7, and 9 hours apart – if they had worked a bit harder, it would have been perfectly 8, 8, 8 hours separation. This was before skype, zoom, etc. No engineer or even physicist would ever choose to do that. When we had to get together for major design reviews, 2/3 of the team would be suffering from trans-ocean jet lag. But, we managed to complete the engineering design – and then the politicians waited more years before deciding what to do (i left and did other things). Delays –> cost increases.

  8. Post Brexit the UK government is going to have number of problems with electricity suppliers unless they it forks out billions of £ for nationalisation since the four largest electricity suppliers are owned by European Union countries.
    EDF is French-state-owned.
    E.ON formerly Powergen, is owned by German E.ON
    npower is owned by Germany’s RWE Group.
    Scottish Power is a subsidiary of Spanish Iberdrola.

    • We have excellent switching sites so we the customers can easily move to UK suppliers if they cut up rough. The Remoaners also go on about not being able to fly to Europe from UK after Brexit. I’m sure Spanish owned IAG that owns British Airways won’t be too happy if the EU is unreasonable………

    • vukcevic
      We are going to have lots more problems than that, none of them insurmountable.
      I also suspect there are many British owned businesses in Europe.
      I went into Brexit with my eyes open.
      We voted to enter the Common Market in the 70’s. No one mentioned mission creep into full blown political union.
      As oafish as our own government presents itself, I’ll take it any day over EU bureaucracy.
      And were it not for the overtly socialist EU state, Jeremy Corbyn wouldn’t have had a look in, now he’s knocking on the door of No. 10. The labour party, An overtly anti Semitic organisation run by communist sympathisers.

      • “As oafish as our own government presents itself….”
        In a democracy from time to time, but not often, people elect inelegant leader who assembles teams of clever and able subordinates to take forward business of governing the country.
        Not the case this time, though.

      • Hot scot
        Yes, mission creep is the right term and it has happened in many fields
        nobody asked us if we wanted to import milIons of people from all over the word. Similarly no one asked us whether it was ok when, apparently, we have been so integrated into a political union with 27 other contries that it is proving almost impossible to extricate ourselves.
        It would have helped if the politicians had bothered to read what they were voting on. I seem to remember ken Clarke saying proudly at the time that he never even read the Maastricht treaty before voting for it.

      • climatereason
        And I think that’s the point.
        We agreed to a European trading platform. Personally, I didn’t agree to excluded bordering countries being punished by trade tariffs for dealing with the EU, especially the poverty stricken, which only manifested itself as we became politically united with the EU.
        I didn’t wan’t, nor expect to be involved in a restrictive trading environment favouring a single geopolitical trading block.
        And whilst none of us expected the Berlin wall to fall, and as adaptable as Europe is, I expected the fallout to be dealt with by Germany, the very country that incited the wall in the first place.
        The EU political union was a deliberate, managed transition to deal with the inevitable migration crisis from the demise of the USSR. The rest of Western Europe is now paying the price for their success in WW2.
        I grudge no migrant a better life, but I object to unrestricted migration, in either direction. And the damage to any country’s economy goes two ways. Whilst the UK maintains migrants are essential (utter bollox in my opinion) the source country of those migrants is being robbed of the intellectual and physical capacity to emerge from the shadow of the former USSR.
        Unrestricted migration is a curse on both the source and the host country. Wealthy cities like London, Berlin, Paris, and yes, Brussels, ought to be destinations of aspiration, not of entitlement.
        And of course, there is a distinction between genuine refugees, for whom we all have a moral responsibility, and economic migrants, for whom their own country has a responsibility for, not the host country.
        I’ll stop now. Too big a subject.

      • vukcevic
        Ophelia is predicted at 80 MPH winds. Possibly in isolated areas.
        You guys in the US suffer far worse, we’ll suck it up, but no doubt you’ll read media stories of devastation.
        BTW. I read somewhere that the UK is the tornado centre of the world. I have never seen, or heard of one, but it seems that per square mile, we get more than anyone.
        Who knew?

      • “HotScot October 14, 2017 at 10:35 am
        We voted to enter the Common Market in the 70’s.”
        No you didn’t. No-one voted to join, Heath did it without a mandate in 1973, effective Jan 1st 1974. Later, there was a vote to STAY in the common market. But by then the damage was done.

      • “HotScot October 15, 2017 at 4:37 am”
        I no longer live in the UK, migrated downunder (NZ) in 1995 and then to Aus in 2005, so this has little impact for me now. Having said that, I am a firm supporter of Briexit. The sooner the better for the UK IMO.

    • E.ON, RWE and Iberdrola are all sensible businesses (EDF when it is allowed to be too).
      None of them will want to loose a big piece of their market over what is in effect no more than a change of government. The lights will stay on.

  9. Steven,
    Thanks for the expert insight. Please make more comments in any form that you are accustomed to……..most of us here weight the information based on the relevance to topics of interest.
    On this topic, you are a respected authority with profound knowledge.

  10. ‘The UK’s nuclear chief says leaving Euratom is an “existential threat” to the industry’
    What does this ‘industry’ produce? Hint: It’s not an industry. We have an “existential threat” to something that doesn’t exist.

  11. According to a previous head of the UKAEA, it is the international requirements of the ITER project that are driving up costs (i.e components are manufactured all around the world, doubling the costs).

  12. I have been reading the material presented at the IPP website….
    “We seek $2.5M from accredited or otherwise qualified investors, in addition to $5M already raised for our current research phase. With this funding, we expect to demonstrate net fusion energy from hydrogen-boron fuel in 12-18 months.
    Then we plan a 3-4 year engineering phase, leading to the nonexclusive licensing of our technology to large manufacturers. Our 5-megawatt fusion generators are projected to cut the cost of electricity by over 90%, due to their small size, low capital and fuel costs, clean operation, and direct generation of electricity. Each generator will power approximately 3,500 homes, or mobile applications such as ships, trains, or electric planes.
    We project this could cut global CO2 emissions by up to 10 gigatons per year by 2030, soon enough to prevent the worst effects of climate change.”
    Wow, just $7.5M and all the worlds energy, pollution, and climate changes problems will be solved!
    On the other hand, I very much agree with the overall point that putting so many eggs (other peoples eggs) in one basket is not likely to lead to success in the quest for fusion.

    • Sounds like a good deal, real scientists and engineers and real science, though cheap. It probably won’t work but Rossi has taken in a lot more dollars based on fakery.

      • LPPFusion HAS achieved two of three Lawson Criteria for net fusion. Reaching the requisite density is on track to be met within 18 months, depending on funding.
        LPPFusion is for real

  13. One day I shall write a book called “Fear and Remoaning in the UK”. We are constantly being hit by negative anti-Brexit fearmongering by the UK Europhile establishment who seem not to understand that the British people voted to become a proper country again and take back control of our borders, laws and money, so we can engage and trade as freely as possible with the rest of the world. This item is just more of the same attempt to derail Brexit.

  14. I did graduate study at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab in the 1960s. At that time, fusion power was 50 years away. Now, 56 years later, it is still 50 years away. In railroads, it’s called “featherbedding.”

  15. WUWT often doesn’t state clearly, near the top, who the source of the article is. In this case, it’s Sky News but we only find that out halfway down where it’s linked. It can be difficult to know for sure where your introduction finishes and the source information starts. This often happens. It’s not underhanded or anything cuz you’re extremely careful about citing sources and referencing everything you say in every article. It would just be easier on the brain if you said after your short intro, “From the Sky News website:” before launching into the quoted article. Or “From the Sky News website (link at bottom):”

  16. Brexit was not started by a letter to the EU technocrats but a vote of the British people. The left really hates that idea. Sadly fusion research in the hands of government will never advance very far. Like if CAGW weren’t proven wrong, if government fusion scientists actually made it work they would be out a job. The motivation for fusion should be very high for the private sector. Working out cost effective fusion and basically the entire world’s economy changes as much as it did with the Industrial Revolution. Since the environmentalists do not understand fusion and have no plans to actually learn they will oppose any and all real advancements. The Left will see cost effective fusion as a great benefit to evil capitalism and therefore the USA even if we don’t develop it first.

  17. hmmm… somewhere since article 50 I am sure I saw a govt statement saying we were now going to stay in euratom.
    confusion reigns!

  18. Deep pockets funding a solution that is always 20 years away, is a guarantee of funding a group that’s main output is excuses, on why they are spending so much money and making so little progress. We found a design that was similar enough to the fission reactors that we already understood. That does not make it the best alternative. And it is soaking up so much funding that many other alternatives are starving of funds, or never fully investigated. The odds are now heavily against ITER producing anything of value, except the wisdom we gained from digging too deep, before we understood what the various alternatives might offer.

  19. Fusion still takes a lot more energy than it produces and the magnetic fields that are supposed to provide the container leak like the proverbial sieve. Apart from that it is wonderful.

    • LPPFusion doesn’t use magnetic confinement. Maybe you need to open your mind for a second and understand how this thing works.
      How it works


      • I’m sorry, sarastro92, I was talking about the UK/European fusion project and paraphrasing the progress I heard from Steven Cowley, currently head of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, previously head of Euratom CCFE Fusion Association and Chief Executive of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Association.

      • You can’t say it works until a commercially viable plant has been built.
        To date, the best you can say that it’s more promising than other things tried.

  20. The European nuclear industry and the transfer of materials is quite rightly highly regulated. However at present all the regulation is EU based and legally enforced by the ECJ (European Court of Justice) . One of the motivations for Brexit is to get the UK out of the ECJ jurisdiction. At present, the ECJ has supremacy over most aspects of UK law.
    We therefore have to extract ourselves from the EU nuclear industry (Euratom) and its regulations. I think it is the intention of the government to create similar structures and procedures in the UK to interface with Euratom as seamlessly as possible.
    There is no reason apart from lack of time or incompetence why this should not be done. Lots of other countries collaborate in this type of research. Those who are against Brexit are producing all sorts of scare stories about every aspect of Brexit and this is just another one.

  21. Brexit is in the hands of an incompetent government that seems to not want to split. The recent election that converted a majority into a gonadless coalition with a parochial Ulster party to cling to life crippled itself even more. Remember the gov was campaigning to stay! It needed a Nigel Farage, hated though he be (probably a necessary condition), to get this done.
    Give the wimpy, entitlement half no hope of clinging to the EU teat. ITER is another “forever employer” scientist welfare project in which the activity is chatter like the project listening to the stars to detect intelligent life and finding crickets. Is anyone hammering, bolting, wiring… or is it all filling the blackboard with undergrad hieroglyphics and jetting about with horn-rimmed glasses and well starched white coats.
    When you set yourself half century goals, you don’t believe you will get there. A US Manhattan Project with a Third Reich of purposeful, capable wolves chewing at your @55 is the model. Or Kennedy making and keeping to a schedule an “impossible” feat of landing on the moon a decade plus a year or two after Sputnik 1.
    European political economy killed the capability for grand projects in science over a half a century ago. Only the US (and it came close to drowning in the same Champagne) and Russia have this capability now. I rejoiced over Brexit because I thought the old spark was still alive – please let it be so.

  22. ..”poses a threat to the vast multi-decade, multi-billion dollar ITER Nuclear Fusion project.”
    A project which is a clear attack on taxpayers wallets and guaranteed to never produce anything greater than bureaucracy.
    One can only wish that the Brit-Exit would collapse such a blackhole.
    To compare past technologies,imagine the steam engine or internal combustion engined vehicles if they were “invented” by such bureaucracies.
    Or better yet.. The Wheel.

  23. Unlike Rossi, LPPFusion publishes its results in peer-reviewed journals. Not a guarantee of success, but we are transparent about what we are doing. And we do need a lot less money than other approaches. We are still raising that $2.5 million mentioned to complete the scientific research. Getting to a prototype generator ready to roll down the line will take a lot more–$50 to $100 million, but still a tiny fraction of ITER. Check our website in a few weeks–we will be posting interesting news.

  24. LPPFusion is on track to achieve net energy in 18 months or less. They already have achieved requisite Temperature and Confinement time to achieve aneutronic fusion energy that’s generated without boilers and turbines, and thus 20 times cheaper than conventional energy systems. A slightly re-configured design using beryllium cathodes are now being installed, followed by introduction of the pB11fuel.
    Currently LPPFusion is #5 on the fusion leader board, even without the final design implementation. Notice that currently China has the most powerful fusion reactor a/k/a “EAST”.
    Fusion race:
    How it works:

    Reaching ignition:

    Complete Album of Videos
    Device video:

    LPPFusion is a shoe-string operation that’s crowd funded and shortly will be open to small investors.

    • ” sarastro92 October 14, 2017 at 11:34 am” That equation does not equally apply to the various efforts, as the temperature needed is different for each reactant pair. Deuterium-Tritium reactions such as ITER function at a lower temperature than Proton-Boron11 (LPPFusion, TriAlpha) reactions.
      Also, I want to point out that D-T reactors (ITER) yield a strong high energy flux of neutrons. Therefore, the reactors will eventually have many of the waste disposal problems of fission reactors. Certainly far less radioactive material, but some. The P-B11 reaction yields three alpha particles but no neutrons.

      • Dan,
        The problem with neutron absorption is entirely radioactive isotope production! If the reaction produces a stable isotope no one worries, but generally if a nucleus in the valley of stability is hit with a neutron, it is pushed well off the valley floor and something has to give to get it back to stability. The nucleus is going to eject an electron or positron to get the p-Z ratio right (beta+/- radiation), or eject an alpha particle to get to the valley. After either emission there is likely to be emission of one or more gamma rays to get the nuclear shell alignments right.
        Neutron absorption is rarely non-radiation producing. I don’t know where these fusion activists get off claiming such! (fewer isotopes produced – maybe, but even the fusion result isotopes are going to be giving off at least gamma radiation as the new nuclear shell arrangements settle in and there is likely to be emission of an electron or positron to get to the valley of stability. )

      • Dan and Owen,
        The waste disposal problems of fission are different than fusion. On average, the atomic weight of most of the fission products is about half that of the fissioning elements. That puts them in the area of the periodic table of transition elements, with the tails of the distribution being those utilized by biology, such as calcium/strontium and potassium and sodium. They tend to have short half-lives. The long-lived plutonium and residual uranium isotopes could be extracted from the brew, but President Carter signed an executive order prohibiting re-cycling.
        Fusion is expected to produce light elements that will be short-lived, and less likely to be incorporated into biological organisms. Thus, the containment problem is less demanding, and as you point out, there is far less radioactive material produced for the same amount of energy production. The biggest problem will probably be the neutron absorbing/heat transfer blanket, such as lithium. We have managed to kluge ways to cope with the waste products of fission for over 50 years; fusion should be a lot easier to deal with.

      • Clyde,
        I wholeheartedly agree. Waste rods from fission could “easily”* be reprocessed into new rods and a relatively small amount of highly radioactive isotopes as waste. The political will to allow it is the only thing stopping this. Most (read ALL) spent fuel rods aren’t removed because they are out of U or Pu to divide, but because they have too many daughter products sucking all the neutrons out of the flow and killing the reaction efficiency.
        *easily as in the typical college textbook that leaves proof of the main thesis of the whole book as an exercise for the student. There is a boatload of engineering work stuck in that easily term!

      • LPPFusion has reached temperatures of 3 billion degrees C… well within the realm for aneutronic reactions.

      • Owen in GA,
        The French have been reprocessing spent fuel for decades. It isn’t like we need to invent something new!
        Carter’s rationalization for prohibiting the USA from reprocessing was to prevent terrorists from intercepting shipments. However, they potentially have a source in France (and Russia). It is a little bit like trying to eliminate a feral cat population by sterilizing all the male cats that can be caught. If you miss a small fraction of the males (even one!) then the effort is for naught. Now that I think about it, it is also analogous to making it extremely difficult for law-abiding citizens to own guns. They aren’t the problem! As long as there are criminals on the streets, there will be people willing to supply them with arms, along with the drugs they are smuggling in.

  25. Gary Pearse
    As I recall, membership of the Common Market was in the hands of an incompetent government that seemed to not want to join.
    Predictably, little has changed.
    As a politically naive very young man in the 70’s, I believe I voted to join the Common Market, although I knew how politically naive I was, so probably didn’t vote at all; on the grounds that I hadn’t a clue what was going on.
    However, as an older, slightly more politically aware man, I voted Brexit simply because joining the Common Market specifically excluded a political union.
    Indeed, in much the same way remainers demand a re-vote because they had been lied to (even as a young man I recognised politicians lie, so how naive are they?) we old codgers got the opportunity to rectify our original mistake; of believing the Common Market wouldn’t morph into a political union. Unsurprisingly, we too were lied to, but we had to wait 40 years for the opportunity to address that lie.
    So lets give the youth of today the same chance to address any mistake made by the majority of the country voting to leave. They only have to wait 40 years.
    By the way, my admiration for UKIP went from zero to around seven out of ten when I actually read their manifesto and realised they weren’t racist, homophobic, xenophobic or any of the other accusations made against them. I don’t hear the left hurling accusations of anti Semitism at our current labour party, despite considerably more evidence.
    UKIP also have a robustly sceptical view on climate change and I harboured admiration for Nigel Farages personal qualities as a debater, far more straightforward and honest than our incumbent PM, or most of her predecessors.

  26. There seems to be considerable confusion about what the article is saying. Prof. Chapman is in
    charge of the EU funded tomak in Oxford (the JET project). The ITER tomak is funded by a wide range of countries including the USA and Japan as well as the EU. Britain leaving the EU will have a major impact on the JET project but almost no impact on the ITER since that is not a EU project.

  27. ITER has always been a boondoggle. It would be good for a few hundred million to fund the alternative approaches and give them 3 years to demonstrate success.

  28. sarastro92, I have followed Eric Lerner’s work from the start as we lived in the same area, as in Lawrenceville is very close to Princeton. There is no doubt the man is driven. And yes, his team looks good. You seam to think that plasma density in not a big deal. It is a very, very big deal. LPP thinks the problem can be solved with a bit of engineering. I’m not so sure. This is new ground. Using Boron is the way to go but, the task is much more difficult. You appear to have an emotional attachment to LLP’s progress. Just remember that emotion and science don’t work well together. I do hope LPP is successful and you are you disappointed.

    • Thanks for the sermon Ric. If you review Lerner’s lecture posted above (“Reaching Ignition”), he’s quite candid that nothing is guaranteed. It’s also quite clear that Lerner and his tiny team have been extremely diligent in understanding all the variables in play to solving the density problem. Lerner’s theory is that impurities in the reactor chamber cause the plasma to evolve asymmetrically, and never cohere sufficiently to capitalize on the fusion scaling laws expected to be in play.
      Lerner and his colleagues are just now beginning to implement a short-term agenda that I mentioned above and that he elaborates in the video (beryllium electrodes, pre-ionization heating, baking out, reconfiguration, loading the pB11 fuel)
      Will it work and strike gold? All I stated above is that “Perhaps by the Spring 2018 we’ll see if the density can be reached for ignition.”
      By April or May 2018 Lerner will probably have a good idea whether he’s on the right track, whether the impurity theory is valid and if the proposed fixes work. So far the intermediary steps have generated good results in the right direction.
      This is not an impossible dream that’s perpetually deferred 35 years in the future. So Hell yeah I’m enthusiastic yet nothing is guaranteed. But your dour pessimism is not warranted either nor is it particularly “realistic”.

  29. Eric Lerner and his team have studied the density problem in great detail and have an agenda to address the challenge. He elaborates in the video posted above (“Reaching Ignition”). All I stated is that we’ll know if he’s on the right track next April or May. Maybe he’ll strike gold or maybe he’s back to square one. So far the intermediary experiments have reinforced the “Impurities Theory”.
    Having followed fusion energy for decades myself I can say that Hell, yes… this is damned encouraging. he moment of truth isn’t perpetually 35 years ahead. Your dour pessimism is not particularly realistic and justified. But we’ll see pretty soon how this plays out.

  30. If the problem is FUSION, why do scientists not unite to understand the nature of the fusion formation? If science has not yet explained what magnetism is and how and why it arises, it is certain that they will never know what fusion is. Such attempts to derive energy from “hardened” hydrogen atoms in various relationships and forms will never yield results, because there is no known cause for the atoms to approach and form energy. . And what is the energy and how it gets from subatomic particles, it does not understand science.
    Here, I will give you all the basis for understanding this enigma.
     When matter is formed by AETHER, which fills the whole universe and in it is “submerged” all matter, the state of matter forms the energy state of the matter in the form of gluons formed by annihilation of an electron-positron pair. Gluon with Aether has a backward “family relationship” in the form of magnetism. How to get this energy state of matter in the form of gluon? and where there are gluons in matter and how to separate them. ? Science thinks atomic nuclei should be compressed to the extent that they merge and then heat release will occur, but they try to achieve this by high temperature and pressure using lasers. ERROR!
    There are two other ways to get free energy, because it has infinity in the universe. Only our sun can heat about 500 lions of planets like Earth, 150 million kilometers on the surface of the radius of the radius.
    It is much easier to get energy from Aether-gluon !! A further explanation is worth more

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