Following Chinese Breakthrough Fusion Power Only 50 Years Away*

Chinese researchers have managed a breakthrough in the pursuit of fusion power – that promise of cheap, near unlimited and non polluting energy. This means that proper commercial reactors might only be as near as only 50 years away*.

China has claimed a breakthrough in the race to develop cheap, clean energy through nuclear fusion, a dream of scientists for decades.

The potential of the reaction that occurs in the sun has long been recognised by researchers but they have struggled to recreate the process without putting in more energy than was released.

Yes, OK, that’s the task. But?

And it looks like China is racing into the lead with its groundbreaking reactor, having reached a major milestone this week. According to the Daily Mail, the machine hit 180 million F (100 million C) for the first time, which is believed to be the temperature at which nuclear fusion occurs.

Although it’s meant to replicate the sun, this temperature makes it six times hotter than the core of the burning star, which peaks at around 27 million F (15 million C).

Excellent news, eh? Commercial fusion power is only 5 decades away.**

*Yes, we know the joke, that’s the point.

**Yes, really, we know.

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Rhoda Klapp
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Rhoda Klapp

I can get better promises than that elsewhere. Like Tokamak Energy here in Oxfordshire. Mind you, I like fission too, and that is deliverable, but the people who say there’s a problem with fossil fuels want nothing to do with any workable replacement, because they are luddite twits who should not be indulged in their fantasies.

Samarkand Tony
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Samarkand Tony

We’ve firmly established that fission power is drastically uneconomic due to cleanup costs – not because of the spent fuel and so-on, but because of the thousands of tonnes of reinforced concrete that has to be demolished despite a low level of radioactive contamination.

Rhoda Klapp
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Rhoda Klapp

That’s old tech and rules designed to have that effect. It need not affect new build except where the people commissioning it are stupid. EG Hinckley point.

Samarkand Tony
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Samarkand Tony

No, it’s in the nature of generating electricity from fission power that you require fission power stations, and those are, like all power stations, huge buildings. Demolishing them isn’t tricky, as such, it’s just time-consuming, painstaking work and so very expensive to do on such a large scale.

Rhoda Klapp
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Rhoda Klapp

Small modular is one way. Another is to build new on old sites and kick the cleanup into the long grass. First you need the will to fix the problems, and that is what is lacking currently.

Samarkand Tony
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Samarkand Tony

I don’t think you quite understand the problem. You can’t build on old sites without demolition first. Demolition of large piles of reinforced concrete, while containing all the dust and using workers dressed in suits and respirators, is a big, extremely expensive job.

discoveredjoys
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discoveredjoys

**Just like we will all be driving flying cars real soon now. Honestly, stand on a footbridge over a busy motorway on a Friday night and imagine that river of cars and trucks flying over peoples’ houses. It’s hard enough getting the idea of autonomous vehicles accepted, now imagine them a thousand feet over your head…

Samarkand Tony
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Samarkand Tony

Er… If we all have flying cars, why are we still following the roads? 🙂

Q46
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Q46

Everything inspired by global warming is ‘just’ decades away: tipping points, ice-free Poles, snow-free Winters, extinct Polar bears, sinking Pacific islands, scorching Summers, unending droughts, floods, mass population migration… the list is long.

Q46
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Q46

‘. According to the Daily Mail, the machine hit 180 million F (100 million C) for the first time…’ The issue is not ‘hitting’ 100 million C, it is containing it – that small sun that has been created. No known material can survive contact with the plasma at that temperature, so it has to be held in an electro-magnetic containment field. When (not if) there is a containment breach, the fusion reactor will become a very, very large hydrogen bomb… within one second. Anyone who imagines fusion reactors will provide cheap energy, should examine the costs of building and… Read more »

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

There’s no chance whatever of a fusion reactor exploding like a hydrogen bomb, it’s a physical impossibility – loss of containment simply stops the reaction. The real problem is that a successful D-T reaction produces a helium nucleus and a high-energy neutron – at 14MeV, that’s around three times the energy of neutrons produced in a fission reactor. But fission neutrons are produced in the middle of a large lump of heavy metal, where they’re soon absorbed to generate heat, whereas fusion neutrons are produced in a pretty hard vacuum and (being uninfluenced by EM fields) shoot out to strike… Read more »

GR8M8S
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GR8M8S

‘But limiting global temperatures below two degrees provides no guarantee that the world will avoid catastrophe, nor does exceeding that threshold assure it.’

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2018-02-08/two-degree-delusion

Shadeburst
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Shadeburst

50 years sounds like linear extrapolation to me. In just 30 years, AI will be a million times more powerful than today (20 doublings). It will be able to solve these problems that are beyond the range of our finite human intelligence.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

Moore’s ‘Law’ ran out of steam about 2-3 generations ago. A faster Excel will not achieve AI.

Shadeburst
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Shadeburst

It ain’t necessarily so. Update your beliefs here. https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/01/artificial-intelligence-revolution-1.html

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

LMFAO did you really fall for that crap?

boo radley
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boo radley

The problem is every advance in fusion research claims to have commercial power in fifty years. but each advance asks more questions than it solves.