Fusion Power Breakthrough

A major engineering challenge seems to have been overcome.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

James? You're my go-to guy on this stuff. Is this one of those things that is just around the corner, but that turns out to be 30 years?

Don't get me wrong. 30 years would be wonderful. Not for me personally, of course. I'll be fuel by then.

james said...

It isn't my particular field, but the figure on page 9 in https://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/3/11/1741/pdf suggests that an order of magnitude would get us into the "demonstration of breakeven" regime. I'd think you'd need another order of magnitude after that to make it commercially feasible (assuming you work out the neutron issues). The figure shows that there's been progress, btw.

The progress here is supposed to allow an order of magnitude increase in "something" not clearly reported, thanks to an exhaust system. The link from this site describes a UK development but points to a non-existent Reuters article, and scanning about for recent news finds a German Stellerator (Wendelstein 7-X) reporting some nice density increases. So I'm not yet sure exactly what they're writing about.

In any case, I'd guess that an order of magnitude in a "demonstration" turns into a factor of 2 or so in larger tests. That's quite good, and quite encouraging--looking at the rate of progress in that figure. It might actually be less than 30 years.

Dad29 said...

Not the first "magic Fusion!!!" story in the last 30 years....and the last one fooled a pal of mine who worked in Nuke Power industry at manufacturer (GE) and utility (WEPCO) levels.

We'll see.

Roy Lofquist said...

About 50 years ago my bride and I frequented a small neighborhood tavern in LA. We met a couple of young physicists who were working with a Tokamak at JPL, or maybe it was Cal Tech. They were really excited and were sure that fusion power was maybe 10 or 15 years away. About the same time the computer world was sure that the Artificial Intelligence singularity was, at most, a decade away. Don't get me started on self-driving cars or robot butlers or vacations on Mars.