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Horizon: Can we make a star on earth?

 
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PowerSwitchJames



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:31 am    Post subject: Horizon: Can we make a star on earth? Reply with quote


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Tess



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Location: Truro

PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quite a depressing (albeit interesting) programme. I had been under the impression that physicists and engineers had figured out how to make a power-generating fusion reactor and all that was required was to build and prove the technology. But it turns out they still don't have a way to get the fuel into the reactor fast enough to sustain it (among other problems). Oh dear.

Presumably the funding will only come when the economics dictate (as opposed to the climate, which wont impact major economies until it's too late to do anything).
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Bandidoz
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For those wanting to record it from TV, I expect this will be screened with subtitles on BBC1 on April 10. Ish.
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biffvernon



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Horizon: Can we make a star on earth? Reply with quote

PowerSwitchJames wrote:
Fusion is still 40 years away. Smile

It's Einstein's extra-special theory of relativity; fusion power will always be 40 years away no matter how fast the researchers move.
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Initiation



Joined: 18 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tess wrote:
Quite a depressing programme.


Strangely I thought the total opposite and that the programme was quite optimistic saying the great 'leap forward' is only just around the corner. Then again may that is because I always think of fusion of being 40-50 years away minimum.
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Bandidoz
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 4:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just watched it. I thought the best part of the programme was the "outlining of the predicament" i.e. the mammoth task of commissioning power plants every hour etc. Very sobering indeed, especially considering they didn't even bother to check how quickly the other options can be scaled up (5000 fission reactors? - fat chance).

It appears that there may be a breakthrough within, say, 20 years, when the fusion process can become net energy positive (in terms of the operation at least - overlooking the manufacturing). I thought the "NIF" approach was crap; I doubt very much that it will yield any worthwhile result (though it could be a useful materials research facility). The Korean reactor looks very promising.

The programme gave a lot of detail in terms of the physics of the reaction etc, but absolutely nothing on how energy is extracted from the system and converted into electricity.

I felt annoyed at the end with the predictions, because to get to lots of fusion power plants is going to take many iterations of the power-plant process. I'd guess it would take at least 100 years to scale up fully from now. To suggest that "the energy crisis is over" in 2020, or even 2050, is laughable. If anything, fusion will barely be getting off the ground when we find ourselves knee deep in it.
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DominicJ



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

100 years after implementation may be a bit pessimistic, look at current nuclear plants.
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snow hope



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DominicJ wrote:
100 years after implementation may be a bit pessimistic, look at current nuclear plants.


Maybe, but lets face it the fusion breakthrough, ramp-up and electricity production, even for first-world countries, will not be available anywhere near soon enough to mitigate fossil fuel decline. Sad

I enjoyed the programme and was optimistic until 2/3rds of the way through, when I realised we were still (at the earliest) decades away from fusion power stations........ even if we get a break-through in the next few years, how many decades with it take to get scalable electricity production?

Seems like mankind has failed to reach the next energy level...... mind you the fat lady isn't singing yet...... what's that sound I hear in the distance.
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