General Atomics to ship world’s most powerful magnet to ITER global fusion energy project

Major milestone in US contribution

ITER

Science Business Announcement

VIDEO: AFTER A DECADE OF DESIGN AND FABRICATION, GENERAL ATOMICS IS READY TO SHIP THE FIRST MODULE OF THE CENTRAL SOLENOID, THE WORLD’S MOST POWERFUL MAGNET. IT WILL BECOME A CENTRAL… view more 
CREDIT: ITER / GENERAL ATOMICS

San Diego, June 15 – After a decade of design and fabrication, General Atomics is ready to ship the first module of the Central Solenoid, the world’s most powerful magnet. It will become a central component of ITER, a machine that replicates the fusion power of the Sun. ITER is being built in southern France by 35 partner countries.

ITER’s mission is to prove energy from hydrogen fusion can be created and controlled on earth. Fusion energy is carbon-free, safe and economic. The materials to power society with hydrogen fusion for millions of years are readily abundant.

Despite the challenges of Covid-19, ITER is almost 75 percent built. For the past 15 months, massive first-of-a-kind components have begun to arrive in France from three continents. When assembled together, they will make up the ITER Tokamak, a “sun on earth” to demonstrate fusion at industrial scale.

ITER is a collaboration of 35 partner countries: the European Union (plus the United Kingdom and Switzerland), China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States. Most of ITER’s funding is in the form of contributed components. This arrangement drives companies like General Atomics to expand their expertise in the futuristic technologies needed for fusion.

The Central Solenoid, the largest of ITER’s magnets, will be made up of six modules. It is one of the largest of the U.S. contributions to ITER.

Fully assembled, it will be 18 meters (59 feet) tall and 4.25 meters (14 feet) wide, and will weigh a thousand tons. It will induce a powerful current in the ITER plasma, helping to shape and control the fusion reaction during long pulses. It is sometimes called the “beating heart” of the ITER machine.

How powerful is the Central Solenoid? Its magnetic force is strong enough to lift an aircraft carrier 2 meters (6 feet) into the air. At its core, it will reach a magnetic field strength of 13 Tesla, about 280,000 times stronger than the earth’s magnetic field. The support structures for the Central Solenoid will have to withstand forces equal to twice the thrust of a space shuttle lift-off.

Earlier this year, General Atomics (GA) completed final testing of the first Central Solenoid module. This week it will be loaded onto a special heavy transport truck for shipment to Houston, where it will be placed on an ocean-going vessel for shipment to southern France.

The Central Solenoid will play a critical role in ITER’s mission to establish fusion energy as a practical, safe and inexhaustible source of clean, abundant and carbon-free electricity.

“This project ranks among the largest, most complex and demanding magnet programs ever undertaken,” says John Smith, GA’s Director of Engineering and Projects. “I speak for the entire team when I say this is the most important and significant project of our careers. We have all felt the responsibility of working on a job that has the potential to change the world. This is a significant achievement for the GA team and US ITER.”

The Central Solenoid modules are being manufactured at GA’s Magnet Technologies Center in Poway, California, near San Diego, under the direction of the US ITER project, managed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Five additional Central Solenoid modules, plus one spare, are at various stages of fabrication. Module 2 will be shipped in August.

The Promise of Fusion

Hydrogen fusion is an ideal method of generating energy. The deuterium fuel is readily available in seawater, and the only by-product is helium. Like a gas, coal, or fission plant, a fusion plant will provide highly concentrated, baseload energy around the clock. Yet fusion produces no greenhouse gas emissions or long-lived radioactive waste. The risk of accidents with a fusion plant is very limited – if containment is lost, the fusion reaction simply stops.

Fusion energy is closer than many people realize. It could provide a source of carbon-free electricity for the grid, playing a key role as the U.S. and other nations decarbonize their generation infrastructure. Two recent reports released by the fusion community lay out ways the U.S. can get there.

In December, the U.S. Department of Energy Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee released a report that lays out a strategic plan for fusion energy and plasma science research over the next decade. It calls for the development and construction of a fusion pilot plant by 2040.

In February of this year, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released a complementary report calling for aggressive action to build a pilot power plant. The NASEM report proposes a design by 2028 and a fusion pilot plant in the 2035-2040 timeline.

“The point of working from this timeline was to outline what it would take to have an impact on the transition to reduced carbon emissions by the mid-century. Many investments and essential activities would need to begin now in order to meet that timeline,” says Kathy McCarthy, Director of the US ITER Project Office at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “The experience we’re gaining from ITER in integrated, reactor-scale engineering is invaluable for realizing a viable, practical path to fusion energy.”Leveraging global resources for fusion research

ITER (“The Way” in Latin) is one of the most ambitious energy projects ever attempted. In southern France, a coalition of 35 nations is collaborating to build the largest and most powerful tokamak fusion device. The experimental campaign to be carried out at ITER is crucial to preparing the way for the fusion power plants of tomorrow.

Under the 2006 ITER agreement, all members will share equally in the technology developed while funding only a portion of the total cost. The U.S. is contributing about nine percent of ITER’s construction costs.

“The ITER project is the most complex scientific collaboration in history,” says Dr. Bernard Bigot, Director-General of the ITER Organization. “Very challenging First-of-a-kind components are being manufactured on three continents over a nearly 10-year period by leading companies such as General Atomics. Each component represents a top-notch engineering team. Without this global participation, ITER would not have been possible; but as a combined effort, each team leverages its investment by what it learns from the others.”

Both the engineering insights and the scientific data generated by ITER will be critical for the U.S. fusion program. As with the other members, the majority of U.S. contributions are in the form of in-kind manufacturing. This approach allows member countries to support domestic manufacturing, create high-tech jobs, and develop new capabilities in private industry.

“Delivery of the first ITER Central Solenoid module is an exciting milestone for the demonstration of fusion energy and also a terrific achievement of U.S. capacity to build very large, high-field, high-energy superconducting magnets,” says Dr. Michael Mauel of Columbia University. “GA’s success in building, testing, and delivering high-field superconducting magnets for fusion energy is a high-tech breakthrough for the U.S. and gives confidence in realizing fusion power in the future.”

“The United States is a vital Member of the ITER project, which they initiated decades ago,” Bigot explains, “General Atomics, with its world-class expertise in both complex manufacturing and precise control of magnetic fields, is a prime example of the remarkable expertise brought to the table by U.S. scientists and engineers.”

ITER will be the first fusion device to produce net energy across the plasma, meaning the fusion reaction will generate more thermal energy than the energy required to heat the plasma. ITER will also be the first fusion device to maintain fusion for long periods of time. ITER will generate 500 megawatts of thermal fusion power, more than thirty times the current record achieved on the JET tokamak in the U.K.

ITER will have many capabilities that go well beyond current tokamaks. Though ITER will not generate electricity, it will be a critical testbed for the integrated technologies, materials, and physics regimes necessary for the commercial production of fusion-based electricity. The lessons learned at ITER will be used to design the first generation of commercial fusion power plants.

“ITER plays a central role in U.S. burning plasma research activities and is the next critical step in the development of fusion energy,” Dr. Mauel says.The Central Solenoid in context

The Magnet Technologies Center at General Atomics was developed specifically for manufacturing the Central Solenoid – the largest and most powerful pulsed superconducting electromagnet ever constructed – in partnership with US ITER.

Creating the magnetic fields in a tokamak requires three different arrays of magnets. External coils around the ring of the tokamak produce the toroidal magnetic field, confining the plasma inside the vessel. The poloidal coils, a stacked set of rings that orbit the tokamak parallel to its circumference, control the position and shape of the plasma.

In the center of the tokamak, the Central Solenoid uses a pulse of energy to generate a powerful toroidal current in the plasma that flows around the torus. The movement of ions with this current in turn creates a second poloidal magnetic field that improves the confinement of the plasma, as well as generating heat for fusion. At 15 million amperes, ITER’s plasma current will be far more powerful than anything possible in current tokamaks.

The superconductor material used in ITER’s magnets was produced in nine factories in six countries. The 43 kilometers (26.7 miles) of niobium-tin superconductor for the Central Solenoid was manufactured in Japan.

Together, ITER’s magnets create an invisible cage for the plasma that conforms precisely to the metal walls of the tokamak.Making the Central Solenoid

Fabrication of the first module began in 2015. It was preceded by almost four years of collaboration with experts at US ITER to design the process and tools for fabricating the modules.

Each 4.25-meter (14-foot)-diameter, 110-tonne (250,000-pound) module requires more than two years of precision fabrication from more than 5 kilometers (3 miles) of steel-jacketed niobium-tin superconducting cable. The cable is precisely wound into flat, layered “pancakes” that must be carefully spliced together.

To create the superconducting material inside the module winding, the module must be carefully heat treated in a large furnace, which functions similarly to that of a convection oven found in many kitchens. The benefit of the convection oven is the ability to shorten the overall process while maintaining uniform “cooking” of the module. Inside the furnace, the module spends approximately ten-and-a-half days at 570°C (1,060°F) and an additional four days at 650°C (1200°F). The entire process takes about five weeks.

Following heat treatment, the cable is insulated to ensure that electrical shorts do not occur between turns and layers. During turn insulation, the module needs to be un-sprung without overstraining the conductor, which is now strain-sensitive due to heat treatment.

To perform the wrapping, the turns of the module are stretched like a slinky, allowing the taping heads to wrap the fiberglass/Kapton insulation around the conductor. Once the individual turns are wrapped, the external module surfaces are then wrapped with ground insulation. The ground insulation consists of 25 layers of fiberglass and Kapton sheets. The ground insulation must also tightly fit around complex coil features, such as the helium inlets.

After insulation, the module is enclosed in a mold, and 3,800 liters (1,000 gallons) of epoxy resin are injected under vacuum, to saturate the insulation materials and prevent bubbles or voids. When hardened at 650°C (260°F), the epoxy fuses the entire module into a single structural unit.

The finished module is subjected to a series of demanding tests, placing it in the extreme conditions it will experience during ITER operation, including near-complete vacuum and cryogenic temperatures required for the magnet to become superconducting (4.5 Kelvin, which equates to about -450°F or -270°C).

Lessons learned on the first Central Solenoid module have been applied to the fabrication of the subsequent six coils.

“For those of us who have dedicated our careers to fusion research, this is undeniably an exciting moment,” said Dr. Tony Taylor, GA’s vice president for magnetic fusion energy. “When the module leaves for its trip to France, we will all be able to take pride in a very significant contribution on the road to fusion energy.”Shipment to France

ITER construction involves more than 1 million components, manufactured around the world. Many of these components are very large, and the Central Solenoid modules are among the heaviest. The shipping process for the massive magnets requires specialized heavy transport vehicles. The entire process for safely loading and securing the module on the truck, including preparations for lifting, will take about a week.

After loading, the module will be shipped to Houston, Texas, where it will be placed onto a ship for transport to the ITER site. The first module will head to sea in late July and arrive in France in late August. Ground transit to the ITER site will take place in early September.

“Fusion has the potential to provide safe, environmentally friendly energy as a realistic replacement for fossil fuels during this century,” Bigot says. “With a nearly unlimited global supply of fuel, it also has the potential – in complement with renewable energies – to transform the geopolitics of energy supply. I can think of no better illustration of that transformative action than the ITER project, where our U.S. partners work in close collaboration with contributors from China, Europe, India, Japan, South Korea, and Russia, as a single team dedicated to achieving the common goal of a bright energy future.”

###

How does fusion work?

A small amount of deuterium and tritium (hydrogen) gas is injected into a large, donut-shaped vacuum chamber, called a tokamak. The hydrogen is heated until it becomes an ionized plasma, which looks like a cloud. Giant superconducting magnets, integrated with the tokamak, confine and shape the ionized plasma, keeping it away from the metal walls. When the hydrogen plasma reaches 150 million degrees Celsius–ten times hotter than the core of the Sun–fusion occurs. In the fusion reaction, a tiny amount of mass is converted to a huge amount of energy (E=mc2). Ultra-high-energy neutrons, produced by fusion, escape the magnetic field and hit the metal tokamak chamber walls, transmitting their energy to the walls as heat. Some neutrons react with lithium in the metal walls, creating more tritium fuel for fusion. Water circulating in the tokamak walls receives the heat and is converted to steam. In a commercial reactor, this steam will drive turbines to produce electricity. Hundreds of tokamaks have been built, but ITER will be the first to achieve a “burning” or largely self-heating plasma.

About General Atomics: Since the dawn of the atomic age, General Atomics innovations have advanced the state of the art across the full spectrum of science and technology – from nuclear energy and defense to medicine and high-performance computing. Behind a talented global team of scientists, engineers, and professionals, GA’s unique experience and capabilities continue to deliver safe, sustainable, economical, and innovative solutions to meet growing global demands. GA’s portfolio of innovative programs includes remotely piloted aircraft, such as the Predator and Reaper; the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) being installed on the new Ford-class aircraft carriers; and a variety of advanced manufacturing programs that are driving innovation in the nation’s Inertial Confinement Fusion program.

GA has worked in fusion energy since the company’s founding in the 1950s. GA currently operates the DIII-D National Fusion Facility for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, where researchers from GA and more than 100 institutions worldwide work to develop the physics basis for practical fusion-generated power.

About US ITER: Dr Kathy McCarthy is the Director of the US ITER Project Office and the Associate Laboratory Director for Fusion and Fission Energy and Science at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. US ITER is funded by the DOE Office of Science’s Fusion Energy Sciences program. UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. The Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit https://energy.gov/science.

About ITER: ITER–designed to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion power–will be the world’s largest experimental fusion facility. Fusion is the process that powers the Sun and the stars: when light atomic nuclei fuse together to form heavier ones, a large amount of energy is released. Fusion research is aimed at developing a safe, abundant and environmentally responsible energy source. For more information on the ITER Project, visit: http://www.iter.org/

From EurekAlert!

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Rich Davis
June 16, 2021 2:27 am

Fusion power is closer than most people think

Yep, about 150 million km (93 million miles)

Last edited 4 months ago by Rich Davis
GoatGuy
Reply to  Rich Davis
June 16, 2021 8:27 am

⊕1 … because for a few million dollars, an investment can focus ubiquitous sunlight onto a tower, boil water, and run turbines. All from FUSION.  And there are no radioactive byproducts. Just Earth’s inconvenient daily rotation to interfere with the process.  

MOREover, the same sunlight is available almost everywhere where there are people on the planet. It is especially abundant where there aren’t people … deserts … which are often themselves conveniently close to civilization.  

While it might be a marvel that after what 60 years, Physics is on the verge of making a multii-billion-dollar great-big-fuzor, well … incoming at well over 1 GW per hectare iis sunlight. Lots of it. What could a billion dollars in mirrors and boiler towers do?

⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

Drake
Reply to  GoatGuy
June 16, 2021 9:35 am

A few BILLION! Ivanpah, $2.2 B: Still killing a lot (6,000/yr) of birds. etc.

All the way up to 90% of design capacity, amazing.

Works when the sun shines, so it is REALLY dependable!!!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivanpah_Solar_Power_Facility

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  Drake
June 16, 2021 12:11 pm

Pah! Humbug!

Ivan

Ted
Reply to  Drake
June 16, 2021 2:55 pm

It works when the sun shines as long as the integrated natural gas power plant warms it up first.

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  GoatGuy
June 16, 2021 12:10 pm

And all we have to do to make it practical is stop the earth from turning.

H.R.
Reply to  jorgekafkazar
June 16, 2021 7:55 pm

That’s gotta be easier than solving the battery problem, eh?

Sage
Reply to  GoatGuy
June 16, 2021 1:07 pm

Have you heard of the Crescent Dunes solar plant?

Maybe not so easy after all.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  GoatGuy
June 16, 2021 6:39 pm

It is especially abundant where there aren’t people … deserts … which are often themselves conveniently close to civilization. 

Are you a political script writer? Statement A does not work in context with Statement B. Making the sentence longer in the hope the reader isn’t paying attention doesn’t change the A vs B relationship.

You are either in the middle of nowhere where you are not affecting people, or you are near people. Not both.

Jim Whelan
Reply to  GoatGuy
June 17, 2021 9:58 am

I frequently say, “Politicized science is always bad science”

Particle physics (fusion and colliders) have become heavily political with the need for government money to fund the latest, bigger device (always with the most powerful magnets not yet available). Doing that requires the “science” make over the top and outlandish claims. A “God” particle anyone?

Bryan A
Reply to  Rich Davis
June 16, 2021 10:06 am

Actually, with the aid of this new powerful magnet, fusion power could be a mere 10 years away
😉

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  Bryan A
June 16, 2021 12:12 pm

Fusion power is the wave of the future. And always will be.

Kpar
Reply to  jorgekafkazar
June 18, 2021 1:31 pm

Yep, it’s only about 40 years away, just like it’s been for the last 50 years.

ggm
June 16, 2021 2:45 am

Hot fusion will not work. The amount of energy going into it will never be recovered.

Scissor
Reply to  ggm
June 16, 2021 4:35 am

You might be right. It all depends on whether it is technically possible or not. The challenge to overcome the “it can’t be done” narrative is a powerful motivator to some, however.

We all know how the Wright brothers succeeded in the face of such doubt.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Scissor
June 16, 2021 5:05 am

No, it’s not about what is technically possible. Commercialization is about what is economically feasible, and these monstrosities will never be that.

Lots of things are technically possible but completely uneconomic. You can extract CO2 from the air and make hydrocarbons for example. It’s just that you need to put more energy in than you get out, so it makes no economic sense to do it.

Scissor
Reply to  Rich Davis
June 16, 2021 9:15 am

My problem is that I usually don’t even consider opportunities unless they are clearly economic and even then must have a minimum ROI. Obviously you are correct from a making sense perspective.

That said, R&D costs are inherently risky with no guarantee of return but some exploration is warranted. Usually, a technical guy must convince a financial guy of some feasibility in order to get funded.

This is tangential, but unfortunately in today’s distorted markets a lot of bad ideas fly because someone, e.g. Warren Buffet, makes money off of it (privatized gains/socialized costs). We can all cite many examples of this.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Scissor
June 16, 2021 2:37 pm

I agree that it was worth a try. Forty years ago. Basic scientific research is probably something worth having government fund if you have a reasonable process for justifying the value of the knowledge hoped to be gained and balanced against cost.

There are non-tokamak fusion designs being pursued. I don’t know enough about them to hazard a guess about whether they might be more viable. Bottom line, it seems highly unlikely that fusion can compete with 4G fission, conventional fission, or fossil fuels of any kind.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Rich Davis
June 16, 2021 9:36 pm

“Lots of things are technically possible but completely uneconomic. You can extract CO2 from the air and make hydrocarbons for example…”

Farmers do exactly that! And some of us make money at it.Allegedly…

dmanfred
Reply to  Scissor
June 16, 2021 7:55 am

In the amount of time they’ve been working on hot fusion aircraft went from the Wright’s first flight to jets.

dmanfred
Reply to  Scissor
June 16, 2021 8:04 am

Actually the Wright’s biggest fear wasn’t that heavier then air flight was impossible. They were afraid someone else would do it first.

Last edited 4 months ago by dmanfred
Jim Whelan
Reply to  dmanfred
June 16, 2021 10:56 am

Correct. They weren’t working in an “it can’t be done” environment but rather an “it CAN be done” environment. Some things really can’t be done.

With the time, money and effort already put into magnetic confinement fusion it’s pretty clear that’s not going to be the solution.

ATheoK
Reply to  Scissor
June 16, 2021 4:47 pm

powerful motivator”

Which reminded me of when Luke tells his Uncle Owen that the droid has a bad “motivator”.

William Astley
Reply to  ggm
June 16, 2021 9:44 am

In reply to ‘Hot Fusion’ will never work.

Yes. Because the energy to produce the immense magnetic field is wasted. As is the heat to super create the 150-million-degree Celsius plasma is wasted… Waste energy that must be made up by the fusion.

If the waste energy is too great …. A fusion reactor will never be a practical option.

The objective is to cause fusion to happen… Not to super heat gas and compressing it in an immense magnetic field.

The problem is cold fusion does not work with natural materials.

We need a new field of science, subatomic physics. The ability to produce nuclear structures and ‘materials’ that do not occur in nature.

What we need to do is to reverse engineer what was ‘discovered’ and described at Roswell, by the local people. These are simple people at a time of war (cold) in 1947.

The local people would not/could not make up seeing pieces of a super conductor. This is before the time of science fiction movies. 1947. Few televisions. No reason for the local people to make up stuff.

What was found, in Roswell by a small group of local people who played with it and talk about. What was found was not a weather balloon. There are pictures of people looking at pieces of a weather balloon. That makes sense as the official explanation is a weather balloon, so pieces of a weather balloon were later brought to Roswell.

The local people explained that they were poised for pictures looking at the pieces of the weather balloon.

Local people at Roswell described touching and playing with a room temperature super conductor, that was super strong, had no cresses or folds in it.

They described the super conducting, mirror, like material seemed to have a power in it. It would stretch back to shape if it was folded. It could not be cut or burned. They said it seem magic like.

Super conductors are also super good at transmitting heat. This material did not get hot when it was heated with a torch. It was mirror like. This is what a sheet of room temperature super conductor material would look like. Assume what the local people at Roswell described was real. This is how to make that substance.

Nuclear forces are roughly a million times greater than chemical bonds. So, if a manmade substance could be made that uses nuclear bonds, it could be a million times stronger…. than steel, for example, and it would have special properties.

And it would be possible using this special ‘material’ to construct chambers that force/enable fusion to happen because of the strength of the structure and the ability to construct subatomic sized passages which control the position and orientation of the fusion components. This makes possible other possible elements for fusion.

The same material can be used to transmit the heat from the chamber. This enables a tiny fusion device to be constructed.

This ‘technology’ would enable the construction of complex subatomic devices. This manmade subatomic structure enables a host of other devices to be constructed.

In a very strong electric field, neutrons line-up and can be made to connect in an unstable string structure.

The ‘string’ of neutrons can be connected, to form a stable loop that does not occur in nature.

The loops can be linked like a Knight’s chain vest to form complex structures that are more than a million times stronger than steel. One of the things that could be constructed is a cold fusion reactor.

Comment: The limit of how strong an electric field can be made is the quality of the ‘vacuum’ that can be constructed. Due to physics, there is a limit to the quality of a vacuum on the earth or in the space station. A super hard vacuum would require a factory on the moon to construct the loops and linked materials.

menace
Reply to  William Astley
June 16, 2021 11:03 am

“Not even wrong”

Pariah Dog
Reply to  menace
June 16, 2021 1:34 pm

Yes and no. Most of that sounds like the plot of the X Files to me, but there is also what sounds like a recent NASA invention;

https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/a34096117/nasa-nuclear-lattice-confiment-fusion/

I’m no physicist, so I can’t comment on viability, but it sounds like a more manageable approach.

William Astley
Reply to  ggm
June 16, 2021 3:18 pm

Sorry ggm. Here is another angle/option.

Fusion is a red herring. A scam to hide the optimum fission reactor design which could be in production today. This is our weapon against the green scams.

The nuclear industry scam is too keep building fuel rods. The fuel rod reactor design is obsolete.

It is possible to produce electricity as cheap as coal, no possible explosions, no possible ‘leaks’ as the reactor operates at atmospheric pressure. Reactor is located in an underground vault that is covered with a concrete steel reinforced ‘ceiling’ that can withstand a jet plane ‘collision’.
 
The US built and tested the cheapest, safest, fission reactor design in Oak Ridge laboratories about 50 years ago. The test was a complete success. ….. And then all of that data was hidden and the Director was threaten/fired/resigned… And then a NASA engineer found the Oak Ridge test data and gave/issued the test data to the world.

A Canadian/US company Terrestrial Energy optimized the US Oak Ridge design. Their objective is to produce a mass produce able reactor that can be trucked to site. Their design is currently under review by the US nuclear regulatory agency.
 
The optimized design is six times more fuel efficient than a pressure water reactor, produces 1/9 the amount of high radioactive waste, does not require a containment building, and is capable of zero radiation leakage, as the reactor is sealed and isolated and operates at atmospheric pressure.
 
The integral, seven-year service, molten salt reactor consists of a metal can, (12 feet by 24 feet), that has on top six screw type pumps, 35 hp each, to increase circulation in the can, and six integral heat exchangers. The can produces hot salt which transfer heat to other salts and then to water to produce steam at 600C which is then used to produce electricity. 195 MW.
 
The salt melts at 400C. The can operates at around 700C. The salt boils at 1400C. The nuclear salt does not leave the reactor can. There are six heat exchangers in the can. The scheme uses an identical salt in a secondary loop and then has a third loop that runs a standard power system salt which in turn connects to the last heat exchanger which produces steam.
  
At the end of the reactor’s carbon core’s life, seven years, the fission reaction is stopped and the can is drained. The drained fission reactor can is a medium hazard source that can be buried due to its short period of exposure/use. The old reactor can is replaced with a new reactor can and the process is restarted.
 

Terrestrial Energy presentation at a Thorium conference.

Kpar
Reply to  ggm
June 18, 2021 1:36 pm

I dunno, given enough time and gained knowledge, I think fusion will be a power source in the future, but unlikely for electrical generation for a few human generations (space is more likely to be the right environment).

R&D usually brings us to surprising results and directions, but the current drive for “BIG PROJECTS” is likely to be a huge boondoggle, due to the political connections.

I think that “cold fusion” will be a better avenue to explore, and it’s probably going to be a lot cheaper.

Last edited 4 months ago by Kpar
Jim Whelan
Reply to  Kpar
June 18, 2021 6:14 pm

Space generated power has one huge issue: getting the power down to the surface. Yeah, I know, electromagnetic beams. But to transfer a lot of power, the beams must contain a lot of power. Aircraft and birds beware! Not to mention the disaster should a beam stray even slightly off course. And there are questions about extremely high power beams ionizing the atmosphere or other atmospheric disruption.

Rich Davis
June 16, 2021 2:48 am

I recall that 2 or 3 years ago on WUWT there were a number of true believers telling us that terrestrial fusion was just 5 years away. Now it seems that we’re creeping back to the traditional 40 years, albeit currently only about 20. Give it 10 years and it should be back to 40.

In the church of Climastrology, fusion power is the promise of paradise in the next life that gives us hope and a reason to give up our sins of fossil fuel burning in this life and a reason to sacrifice our comforts under the self-flagellation of intermittent weather-dependent power.

After 65 years of promising unlimited power in 40 years, it should be apparent that it will never be economically feasible, let alone competitive with fossil fuels.

We will have sustained fusion on earth when the sun goes red giant. The only hope for humanity’s long term future (when fossil fuels are no longer economically extractable) is fission.

ResourceGuy
Reply to  Rich Davis
June 16, 2021 5:58 am

The climate crusaders need to follow a bright light on their journey to the holy carbon-free land in Paris.

yirgach
Reply to  Rich Davis
June 16, 2021 10:46 am

The ITER location in the South of France is only an hour away from Marseille and only 2 hours from Antibes. I’m sure there is a LOT of momentum to keep the research going as long as possible.

Jim Whelan
Reply to  Rich Davis
June 16, 2021 10:59 am

If it is done it clearly won’t be done with magnetic confinement of plasma. Decades of effort and still no hint of any breakthrough. Throwing stronger magnetic fields at the problem isn’t likely to change things.

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  Jim Whelan
June 16, 2021 12:20 pm

Powerful magnets are powerfully unstable.

Jim Whelan
Reply to  jorgekafkazar
June 16, 2021 7:19 pm

But, but, but, that implies a defect in the magnet or it’s support structure could cause a disaster! Fusion reactors are SAFE! Didn’t you read the propaganda?

noaaprogrammer
Reply to  jorgekafkazar
June 16, 2021 8:38 pm

Dateline: Day after ITER global fusion energy project fires up —
Headline: Detectable Change in Earth’s Magnetic Field Correlates with ITER Project

Scientists Concerned

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  Rich Davis
June 16, 2021 12:19 pm

It all depends on your objective. If the objective is cheap, clean power, that won’t happen. If the objective is to throw away trillions of dollars and destroy the economy of the US, then the project will be a big success.

Peta of Newark
June 16, 2021 2:52 am

Quote#1:”the hydrogen plasma reaches 150 million degrees Celsius

Aw wow, truly epic. We’re gonna build a Carnot Heat Engine with nigh-on 100% heat to energy conversion

Quote#2:”receives the heat and is converted to steam. In a commercial reactor, this steam will drive turbines to produce electricity”

Good grief, They’re gonna throw away easily 65% of that energy raising steam

words fail

Archer
Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 16, 2021 3:24 am

What working body would you suggest as an alternative?

Reply to  Archer
June 16, 2021 7:31 am

CO2 pressurized to superfluid state.

The magic molecule.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 16, 2021 4:40 am

Back in the day, our thermo professor took a few moments to extoll the virtues of mercury / mercury vapor as the working fluid for power plants – higher temperatures / efficiency and less corrosive than water / steam. This was followed by his “punch line” that if the system ever leaked, the operators would drop dead. We laughed, but I guess you had to be there.

beng135
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
June 16, 2021 8:26 am

There was a experimental “binary” power plant, I believe in the 1920-1930s that used mercury as the secondary “cycle” to avoid the loss in the condensation of steam that occurs in standard single cycle plants. Didn’t catch on, tho….. 🙂

Jim Whelan
Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 16, 2021 11:04 am

Loads of temperature but not much energy. And you can’t generate steam within the plasma. Just getting the heat out of the device will lose most of the energy. Temperature is basically a measure of how fast the energy will move from one environment to a colder one. 150MC will be gone in an instant in a less than 1000C environment.

Tom
June 16, 2021 3:16 am

Assuming they can make it work, one wonders what the cost might be.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Tom
June 16, 2021 3:56 am

Aye, there’s the rub, Hamlet.

beng135
Reply to  Rich Davis
June 16, 2021 8:27 am

Cry havoc, and let loose the dogs of fusion.

bluecat57
Reply to  Tom
June 16, 2021 5:39 am

It is OPM so €0 to them.

ChhDi
June 16, 2021 3:21 am

I would like to be optimistic about fusion energy, I mean hey it’s been working for stars for a long time. But is this complexity really necessary to boil water? Are we going to find after building these things, that excess helium in the atmosphere is an “inconvenient problem.” Or worse yet that it is an actual problem and they just cook the whole planet.
Also this whole thing smells of military involvement and implications. It just sounds like another very complex, very time consuming, agenda to get government money poured into businesses to achieve back door military research while claiming to be virtuous and trying to save us all from ourselves.
I’ll stick to Occam’s razor the simplest answers usually turn out to be the best.

Scissor
Reply to  ChhDi
June 16, 2021 4:52 am

Based on everything we see going on, you’re right to be skeptical.

To address a couple of your technical points, first, not much helium will be generated compared to that formed naturally by fission, which eventually escapes to space. Second, the military already has thermonuclear hydrogen bombs.

I guess personally, I would rather see scientists and engineers off the street, than robbing Wallgreen stores, or working on virus gain of function, not that any of these things are mutually exclusive.

Jim Whelan
Reply to  ChhDi
June 16, 2021 11:07 am

Stars use gravity confinement, not magnetic. I haven’t noticed any sufficiently large scale gravity generators around. Magnetic confinement has proven itself to be unstable. And even if a plasme is maintqained for a reasonable time I don”t think any work has actually been done on how to efficiently extract the energy.

Troy Hilbert
June 16, 2021 3:36 am

“A small amount of deuterium and tritium (hydrogen)…

Anyone know what constitutes a “small amount?”

Last edited 4 months ago by Troy Hilbert
LdB
Reply to  Troy Hilbert
June 16, 2021 8:23 am

Well technically you only need 1 atom of each 🙂

Practically they are circulating them in ion bunches so that is a function of the injector. Little detail on the injector but the LHC and RHIC would give an indication

Bunches for LHC lead experiments are 7×107 lead ions … 202grams of lead is 6.02×1023
Bunches for RHIC lead experiments are 1×109 gold ions .. 197grams of gold is 6.02×1023

So you would expect in that sort of range but Hydrogen is harder to work with and last bunch sizes I saw were e 1×1015

But hydrogen mass is only 2g per mole so around a 0.3 billionth of a gram

Reply to  LdB
June 16, 2021 12:10 pm

Hydogen is 1 proton and 1 e-. So 1 gram/mole. Deuterium is 2 g/mole.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 16, 2021 2:14 pm

For H2 and D2, multiply by 2.

Jim Whelan
Reply to  Curious George
June 16, 2021 4:40 pm

H2 and D2 apply at standard temperature and pressure but inside a Mega degree centigrade plasma the atoms are no longer joined as molecules. In fact, the electrons aren’t even associated with the atoms.

Reply to  Troy Hilbert
June 16, 2021 11:10 am

“In a fusion reactor, most of the systems processing the fusion fuels will be hosted in a dedicated tritium plant (TP). Here, the different isotopes can be isolated by detritiation of gas streams, so that deuterium and tritium can again be fueled into the reactor. ITER will have a 35 m tall×80 m long×25 m wide TP building. These dimensions are necessary to house the systems responsible for tritium recovery, isotope separation, deuterium-tritium fuel storage, and delivery. However, it should be noted that ITER will only test small mock-ups of tritium breeding elements, with an estimated daily production less than 0.4 g. In contrast, the European DEMO, designed to demonstrate tritium self-sufficiency at a reactor scale, may reach a production as high as 250 g/day.”

source and more detailed info here: https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3298/7/1/6
Above is from Section 8. Issues Related to the Presence of Tritium

Tony Taylor
June 16, 2021 3:40 am

Wonder how long it would take 150 million degrees Celsius to cook my toast.

Scissor
Reply to  Tony Taylor
June 16, 2021 4:58 am

By linear extrapolation, I’d guess about 0.0004 seconds.

dmanfred
Reply to  Scissor
June 16, 2021 7:59 am

Giver me $1.5 billion and I will design a toast injection system.

Reply to  Scissor
June 16, 2021 12:42 pm

Stefan-Boltzmann would beg to differ greatly on a linear extrapolation of radiant emissions to temperature.

Last edited 4 months ago by joelobryan
tommyboy
Reply to  Scissor
June 16, 2021 4:28 pm

If your toast is too dark dial it back to 0.00036

Jim Whelan
Reply to  Tony Taylor
June 16, 2021 11:09 am

Not a factor of temperature but of energy content. My guess is that a low mass plasma at 150MC wouldn’t even get the bread warm enough to melt butter.

Joseph Zorzin
June 16, 2021 3:44 am

“Yet fusion produces no greenhouse gas emissions or long-lived radioactive waste.”

No emissions to produce all this hardware and construct it? Zero?

Scissor
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
June 16, 2021 5:03 am

“Safe and effective,” too.

John W Brisbin
Reply to  Scissor
June 16, 2021 9:59 am

Remember, it will be transported to france on a “modern, rat-free, leak-proof ship”.

John Dueker
June 16, 2021 3:49 am

Fusion has always been x years away. X is unknown to me but eventually it will work. Too many projects have come close to break even energy for it to fail technologically.

My concern is the same crazies who killed US nuclear energy will decide they don’t want to allow it. NIMBY. Or they’ll decide it’s too much energy release and will change the climate somehow.

Science we can ultimately do but do we have the guts to stop the crazies?

Albert E Reid
June 16, 2021 4:18 am

I worked on designing and building the data acquisition systems for TFTR between 1982 and 1986. It was going to be the big breakthrough in Fusion energy research by being the first to reach break even. Almost 40 years have passed and we’re still trying to make fusion energy more than just a dream. I doubt I will ever see a working commercial fusion power plant.

John Pickens
June 16, 2021 5:03 am

“Fusion energy is carbon-free, safe and economic.”

In what world is this statement correct?

The Tokamak fusion process releases abundant neutrons and also uses Tritium, which is radioactive. The high neutron flux transmutes the structure of the Tokamak, rendering it also radioactive.

In the US, the TFTR in Princeton had to be constructed in a huge sealed vault. It was inaccessible to workers for years after mere seconds of fusion activity as they waited for radioactive decay to make it safe to approach. It was then dismantled and much was dumped in radioactive waste storage at Hanford, Washington at huge expense.

Last edited 4 months ago by John Pickens
dmanfred
Reply to  John Pickens
June 16, 2021 8:02 am

I kind of choked on the word “economic”. They don’t know how they’re going to do it but they know whatever it is it will be economic.

John W Brisbin
Reply to  dmanfred
June 16, 2021 10:00 am

In a socialist economy, “economic” is whatever the commissar says it is.

Jim Whelan
Reply to  John Pickens
June 16, 2021 11:11 am

Thanks for pointing this out. Too many fusion advocates claim it won’t be radioactive “like fission”.

shrnfr
June 16, 2021 5:19 am

Nasty secret about fusion is that it produces a lot of neutrons that contaminate the containment. In the case of the sun, there is lots and lots of solar mass above the active fusion area so they are absorbed before they get anywhere near the surface. In these things, the bulk of the energy transfer is done by absorption of the neutrons in the containment. While it is true that the “fuel” does not remain radioactive waste, the containment does.

Jim Whelan
Reply to  shrnfr
June 16, 2021 11:13 am

True, and the sun is very “radioactive”. The Earth’s magnetic field protects us.

I am constantly frustrated by those who claim fusion is not radioactvie , “like fission”.

Izaak Walton
Reply to  shrnfr
June 16, 2021 5:57 pm

Actually the nasty secret about fusion is that it doesn’t produce enough neutrons. ITER proposes fusing Deuterium and Tritium to produce Helium plus one single neutron. That
single neutron has to leave the reactor, heat up some water then collide with a Lithium nucleus causing it to decay into Helium and Tritium. That tritium them has to be collected with 100% efficiency and fed back into ITER before a single atom decays. Any inefficiencies means that commercial fusion reactors aren’t viable as there is no natural source of Tritium since it has a half life of 12 years.

bluecat57
June 16, 2021 5:37 am

How will that affect those that have had the covid vaccination?

TonyL
Reply to  bluecat57
June 16, 2021 7:45 am

Massive neutron bombardment, followed by prompt vaporization.
Have a Nice Day.

bluecat57
Reply to  TonyL
June 16, 2021 11:32 am

I was thinking that magnetic stuff in jest.

ResourceGuy
June 16, 2021 5:39 am

Ivanpah II is ready for operation!

ResourceGuy
June 16, 2021 5:53 am

What will they use the parts for when the project is slowly classified a failure? Let’s see a google map of the tokomak relics across the the world and their inflation adjusted price tags and operating budgets.

ResourceGuy
Reply to  ResourceGuy
June 16, 2021 6:20 am

tokamak

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  ResourceGuy
June 16, 2021 12:32 pm

We know what you meant. Somehow, it doesn’t matter. I spell it: B. O. O. N. D. O. G. G. L. E.

ResourceGuy
June 16, 2021 6:01 am

If it doesn’t work out, they can at least get a very hot plasma coal dust burn from it and some replacement maglev parts.

The Dark Lord
June 16, 2021 6:02 am

Fusion energy is carbon-free, safe and economic.” economic ? maybe “magical” is a better description … the world has spend billions without a single watt of fusion powered electricity being generated … and “safe” is a theory yet untested …

Bryan A
Reply to  The Dark Lord
June 16, 2021 6:58 pm

Haven’t you seen the documentary? Not only is fusion energy safe but it can both make a DeLorean fly and propel it through time

ResourceGuy
Reply to  The Dark Lord
June 17, 2021 8:18 am

The “billions” were carbon intensive.

Randle Dewees
June 16, 2021 6:10 am

As gassy a press release as I’ve ever read.

Shoki Kaneda
June 16, 2021 6:14 am

Until gravity is understood, fusion will never be feasible, either economically or energetically.

Sal Minella
June 16, 2021 6:33 am

Good news: Bernie Bigot says fusion power only thirty years away. 1970 or 2021 – same as it ever was.

Nick B
June 16, 2021 6:46 am

You don’t need 150 million degrees to make a fusion. Just add neutron to ordinary Hydrogen and fuse it to Deuterium. According to E=mc^2 it should be positive energy output and the reaction should be going at room temperature (no need to overcome Coulomb forces).
Why they did not go this much easier way? Simply because neutron rejecting a theory and does not wants to fuse with Hydrogen, but they know “for sure” Deuterium “wants” to be fused with Tritium. Nonsense.

Kevin kilty
June 16, 2021 6:53 am

Zounds! As Cap’n Easy would say. We are capturing neutrons to raise the temperature of the walls. The amount of radiation damage is probably staggering — thus, a lot of maintenance. In fact, they are counting on radiation damage to breed tritium. No radioactive waste? Not likely.

Even if we accept that a demonstration project will run in 2040, with the pace of “de-carbonization” demanded by the zealots, we need a bridge source of reliable, cheap energy for about 25 years or we will be too poor to build commercial versions of the darned thing.

Last edited 4 months ago by Kevin kilty
Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Kevin kilty
June 16, 2021 9:26 am

Lithium has been proposed as a neutron absorber and source for tritium from the neutrons. Thus, should fusion be commercially successful, there will be an increased demand for lithium.

Now, where else have we heard about the usefulness of lithium? 🙂

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  Kevin kilty
June 16, 2021 12:35 pm

Win-win, from the nutters POV.

Coach Springer
June 16, 2021 7:03 am

Hmm, 500 MW but not yet converted to grid electriciy. If it works. For half a nuclear plant or many wind fields or a few coal plants. Still looking for that actual breakthrough, that is still invisible with this project.

Neil Jordan
June 16, 2021 7:41 am

“Some neutrons react with lithium in the metal walls, creating more tritium fuel for fusion.”
Where will the lithium come from? It’s already been spoken for, for lithium batteries. Any chance of water or steam contacting the lithium? That would add a smidgen of heat to the process.

Olen
June 16, 2021 7:43 am

What happens if they have a coronal mass ejection?

Reply to  Olen
June 16, 2021 11:03 am

A helium leak in the CERN LHC in 2008 severely damaged a section when the helium flashed to a gas. A high resistance developed in conductor carrying the current to run the cryo-helium cooled magnets causing an electric arc that ruptured a helium pipe.

That was mass ejection that broke support structures away from their concrete anchors points and severely damaged that section.

Jake J
Reply to  Olen
June 17, 2021 2:22 pm

Happened last night, and we lived. LOL

June 16, 2021 7:56 am

Ultra-high-energy neutrons, produced by fusion, escape the magnetic field and hit the metal tokamak chamber walls
========
The flaw in the ointment.

ScarletMacaw
June 16, 2021 8:19 am

Get back to us when you develop proton-proton fusion. Tritium is not “readily abundant,” and is radioactive.

One alternative that might work is proton and boron 11 fusion. It releases no neutrons, so creating a radioactive containment vessel is not a problem. The fuel is abundant and easily processed for use. There were groups working on p-B11 but I haven’t heard anything lately. The two problems are (1) the coulomb repulsion is 5x that of DT, so it requires higher energy to overcome, and (2) it doesn’t require billions of $$ so the lobbying effort is insufficient.

Thomas Gasloli
June 16, 2021 8:19 am

“Fusion energy is carbon-free, safe, and economic.”
So are unicorns.

Jim Whelan
Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
June 16, 2021 11:16 am

My favorite comment in this thread! So accurate.

Last edited 4 months ago by Jim Whelan
markl
June 16, 2021 9:26 am

I hope they are successful. Without trying we’ll never know. Just don’t ask me to bank on it today.

Jim Whelan
Reply to  markl
June 16, 2021 11:17 am

Sorry but you are already literally banking on it with your tax dollars.

Clyde Spencer
June 16, 2021 9:30 am

I can’t help but wonder what a magnetic field of such strength will do to at least the local geomagnetic field. If it is distorted, what happens if thousands of these are built? Will it impact migrating birds that apparently depend on geomagnetism to navigate?

noaaprogrammer
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
June 16, 2021 8:54 pm

Worse yet — flip the earth’s magnetic field!

Vuk
June 16, 2021 9:46 am

Kids study maths and physics get into fusion research establishment and enjoy life long employment, then do same for your children and grandchildren.

June 16, 2021 10:10 am

The ITER design is already obsolete and the physicists already know it will never make break even power output. Still some of the design and engineering experience that comes with this project will be helpful, but at massive cost.

Any energy (e.g. electricity) that tokamak-driven fusion will produce from any future tokamak will be so expensive that there will certainly be other cheaper, cleaner ways (when the full life-cycle carbon output is accounted) to make that electricity. Tokamaks are a dead-end for commercial energy production. They are merely career-long jobs programs for PhDs.

Last edited 4 months ago by joelobryan
Jake J
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 17, 2021 2:20 pm

I don’t pretend to be able to judge, but I have to agree that there’s a lot of nest-feathering at play in the alternative energy space.

pochas94
June 16, 2021 10:26 am

I was trying to get excited over our future with fusion power, so I grabbed an envelope and started scribbling: With ITER costing $50 billion to generate 500 MW, and if each megawatt serves 100 homes, how much will each home be billed each month to recover the capital cost in 30 years?  I get $2,777.77 US dollars with zero profit. Now add profit, labor, maintenance, etc, etc, etc. Of course, actual plants will do much better than this.

Jake J
Reply to  pochas94
June 17, 2021 2:17 pm

I’m not qualified to express a useful view of fusion’s prospects, but I have to say that the first working model of almost anything is bound to be very expensive.

Dena
June 16, 2021 10:35 am

Typo at
When hardened at 650°C (260°F),

June 16, 2021 10:53 am

The article writer said, “Hydrogen fusion is an ideal method of generating energy. The deuterium fuel is readily available in seawater, and the only by-product is helium.”

There is the production of radionuclides of various half-life from neutron bombardment of the materials in the reactor walls and components. This has to be carefully considered and is being mitigated by careful material selection (which metals etc, i.e. very low cobalt for example).
For those interested, a recently published full review of what has to be done is here:
https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3298/7/1/6

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 16, 2021 4:30 pm

I believe scarce tungsten is being considered to reduce the rate of internal erosion.

Mr. Lee
June 16, 2021 10:53 am

It’ll arrive 10 years from now.

Reply to  Mr. Lee
June 16, 2021 2:20 pm

I see your 10 years, and I raise you 10 years.

Jim Whelan
June 16, 2021 11:24 am

A lot of big numbers thrown around in this piece but all, mostly meaningless, density and rates. “Temperature”, “magnetic field strength”, “Kilowatts” but none about the key value of actual energy.

michael hart
June 16, 2021 12:24 pm

I’m still a supporter of expensive fusion research, but I have to say ‘Well done, France, for helping create a giant bureaucracy which gets to spend a lot of other nation’s money in, errrr, France.’

This was, in fact, the main best reason for the UK leaving the European Union. Their politicians consistently beat our politicians in the grift game, time and time and time and time and time and time again.

The only time we won, was when the “Cultural Chernobyl” of Euro Disney was built outside Paris, not London. Most people can’t imagine how much we laughed.

Glen
June 16, 2021 1:08 pm

You can’t magnetically confine neutrons.Fusion literally destroys the reactor it is in. Maybe, some day, a fusion reactor that makes significantly more energy than it takes to run, will be made. I don’t see why we would want to when fusion is already here. Fusion waste is a politically made problem, not an actual problem.
I meant Fission is already here. and Fission waste is a politically made problem.

Last edited 4 months ago by Glen
Rud Istvan
June 16, 2021 1:15 pm

I wrote about the various fusion approaches, including ITER, in essay Going Nuclear in ebook Blowing Smoke. There are three massive unknowns based on an assumption from previous tokamak failures. The assumption is that the plasma instabilities that caused all previous efforts to fail can be sufficiently overcome at sufficiently big scale. That ‘theory’ has NOT been proven mathematically. I expressed serious doubts in 2014, and nothing has changed.

A physics Nobel prize winner said of fusion (paraphrasing from memory):
”A pretty idea. We just put the sun in a box. The problem is, we don’t know how to make the box.”

Michael S. Kelly
June 16, 2021 1:50 pm

” After a decade of design and fabrication, General Atomics is ready to ship the first module of the Central Solenoid, the world’s most powerful magnet.”

It will leave in its wake the largest number of erased credit card mag strips in all of history.

Last edited 4 months ago by Michael S. Kelly
Smart Rock
June 16, 2021 2:35 pm

I think it’s safe to say that – in the unlikely event that a viable fusion reactor is ever built – the green machine and its lickspittle fellow-travellers in the media will go into overdrive hyperdrive telling us how dangerous it is, and that we should never use it “when unlimited, clean, renewable, cheap energy from the sun and the wind is just there for the taking.”

The implacable hatred of the greens for nuclear fission is the giveaway; they don’t want the world to have cheap reliable energy. They don’t even want the world to have expensive reliable energy.

Rod Evans
June 16, 2021 2:38 pm

One of the greatest by products of fusion is coal. Another couple of by products are oil and gas.
Maybe it would be easier to utilise the available by products of existing fusion and historic fusion rather than attempting to reinvent fusion inside a magnet.
Just a thought, and you never know, use of those existing fusion by products might catch on…..

ATheoK
June 16, 2021 4:42 pm

Will that thing still work after a Carrington Event hits it?

Andre Thomas Lewis
June 16, 2021 5:08 pm

As I’m not a scientist can someone who is explain how much electrical energy is needed to power up this magnet and is that more or less than the energy that could produced by a working fusion reactor?

Jim Whelan
Reply to  Andre Thomas Lewis
June 16, 2021 7:09 pm

Certainly not from this article which concentrates on wowing the reader with big numbers that are rates or energy densities but don’t reflect actual energy. You can bet it’s a whole lot more than you can get out of fusing a few atoms.

500 megawatts for one microsecond (note they never say how long the hoped for “long pulses” are) is 500 watt seconds or enough to power your 10 watt 1000 lumen LED bulb for almost a minute!. So much for the WOW factor.

The higher the plasma energy density the harder it is to maintain magnetic confinement so it is unlikely they will reach the record confinement times of other devices but if they reach 50 milliseconds and can maintain 500 megawatts productive power for the duration (very unlikely) then they would be able to generate 7000 watt hours and run 700 of those lights for a whole hour. Who knows how long it would be until they can power up to another pulse.

Craig from Oz
June 16, 2021 6:45 pm

I am both surprised and embarrassed to be reminded that General Atomics is an actual real world company and NOT just the people who make the Mr Handy robots in the Fallout game series.

Seems Steam isn’t a 100% reliable educational tool. Either that or Todd Howard lied to me… again! 😛

Patrick MJD
June 16, 2021 6:55 pm

How powerful is the Central Solenoid? Its magnetic force is strong enough to lift an aircraft carrier 2 meters (6 feet) into the air.”

Theoretically or they actually did this? Sounds like a great project to work on that will take you from start to retirement with ease.

Jim Whelan
Reply to  Patrick MJD
June 16, 2021 7:17 pm

The statement as phrase makes no sense. Once the magnet is able to hold the ship it can be lifted as high as you want, the energy comes from whatever is driving the crane. If it means you can hold the magnet 2 meters from the ship and the ship will go up to it, I doubt it since most of the metal in the ship will be way more than 2 meters away. Imsuspect it.s a calculation based on all the mass and metal of the ship being concentrated in a single point.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Jim Whelan
June 17, 2021 2:05 am

It indeed make no sense in a practical way. It’s just theory.

Jim Whelan
June 16, 2021 7:35 pm

The risk of accidents with a fusion plant is very limited – if containment is lost, the fusion reaction simply stops

I guess it’s theoretically possible to extract energy from the plasma at a rate that keeps it’s energy density so low that contact with the containment vessel will be immediately dissipated but if you are continuously generating millions of watts and feeding it into the power grid it seems unlikely that the source of that power escaping its confinement would be a trivial event.

Jeff Alberts
June 16, 2021 8:07 pm

General Atomics is also the name of a robotics manufacturer and defense contractor in the Fallout video game world…

ResourceGuy
June 17, 2021 6:12 am

The main problem with cold fusion was that it was not expensive enough.

ResourceGuy
June 17, 2021 8:21 am

When does work start on the new virtual dark energy reactor? The one with parts you can’t see but the dollars are there.

Bernie Goetz
June 17, 2021 8:46 am

Tokamaks are impractical, unstable, and a stunt, conceptually similar to placing a negatively charged wire at the center of a magnetic toroid. A waste of money.

Reply to  Bernie Goetz
June 18, 2021 4:05 am

Britain’s smaller spherical (instead of donut shaped) tokamak could be a more promising approach.

June 17, 2021 11:05 am

13 Teslas is an impressive field strength. The company I work for, Bruker, have made a 21 Tesla MRI scanner for research (for a customer in Portugal).

Ghowe
Reply to  Hatter Eggburn
June 18, 2021 12:45 pm

Bruise made a very nice backpack with a mass spec attached! Not as useful as a GA predator, but a fun toy.

Ghowe
Reply to  Ghowe
June 18, 2021 12:46 pm

Bruker ( a/c sucks)

Jake J
June 17, 2021 2:13 pm

If they can ever lick containment, it will truly be monumental. But I’m quite skeptical.

David Stone CEng
June 18, 2021 6:41 am

Clearly these guys still haven’t understood Magnetohydrodynamics. Magnetic fields cannot control a plasma because it makes fields of its own, causing complete instability, called Chaos. That is why no progress has been made for 70 years. Just look at the surface of the Sun, do you see anything but chaotic motions? Do you have any idea what is going on? I thought not!

Kpar
June 18, 2021 1:28 pm

“… and the only by-product is helium…”

And megatons of highly radioactive stainless steel from the cooling jackets. The neutron flux blisters and embrittles the steel, requiring replacement and long-term sequestration.

Jim Whelan
Reply to  Kpar
June 18, 2021 6:15 pm

You didn’t get the memo that fusion is not radioactive? </sarc>

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