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rjc404

Will laser fusion become a reality?

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http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/the-lasers-fuelling-hopes-of-unlimited-clean-nuclear-energy-9124237.html

Just read this update on NIF's attempts at achieving 'ignition' in the Independent online. The NIF are a bit behind the timescale they initially stated in terms of results but it looks like they've taken a step backward to take a 'leap' forward as the article puts it.

Not 'ignition' yet but they've now apparently managed to release more energy from their experiment than they put into it.

I really hope one of these experiments into self sustaining fusion works in my lifetime!

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I honestly doubt we will get fusion.

It works in the sun as there is the balance between gravity and the general explosion. We do not have the gravity aspect, but do have the explosive bit.

Laser fusion seems to require a terget to compress and fuse, that target will get used pretty fast, going in to replace it seems a not very good idea.

Fusing a gas, is very likely not applicable, the gas could flow back to the target area of the lasers but the blast/energy from the fusion would blast any gas away. So not continuous.

Any solid would be blasted apart by the fusion reaction itself.

I think the research has been on getting fusion, but the real area is stable and continuous fusion.

The stable and continuous aspect will I think need much more advanced engineering then we have at present.

We created fusion when we exploded the first H-bomb, so to an extent we need something to contain a H-bomb.

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The real problem is not the science of fusion which I cynically believe is all the scientist love to do. How much research is conducted in to the materials we will eventually use to build, contain and run a fusion reactor?

Until we concentrate on the later Fusion will always be a moving feast of 30 years from now.

Edited by astrofox

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I recall our own STFC pioneered(?) laser induced fusion some time ago. :)

http://www.stfc.ac.uk/CLF/science/43140.aspx (We now collaborate with NIF?)

(Get the feeling this was not mentioned in some recent newspaper reports)

I guess the recent development is re. achieving a net energy *output*. 

Quite how this would be extracted commercially is never overly clear, but. ;)

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I know sustainable fusion always seems to be '30 years away' but it's still exciting to me that a number of different approaches to this problem are being attempted and progress is seemingly being made.

Huge number of issues as people have pointed out but I'm assuming theses different approaches are being developed as 'proof of concept' and are not meant to be scalable versions of future power stations.

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The attractions of fusion are obvious, should it ever be made to work. But what of the disadvantages of a vast source of 'clean' energy? We tend to focus on the issues of pollution and finite supply when considering oil, and on the dangers of fission reactors. However, maybe our real problem is high energy dependence. Vast quantities of people and things hurtling round the planet bring their own disadvantages. Britain has already been submerged by all this 'moving stuff' and the networks of infrastructure used to manage it.

This isn't a considered opinion, just an open question...

Olly

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You have to be wary of any claims concerning completely clean energy, there is bound to be waste of some kind (even wind turbine must affect climate in some way, and production of solar panels has some nasty by products). Olly's point is a valid one from a physics perspective. As we generate more energy, ultimately all that energy ends up as heat. Radiating the excess heat into space cools the earth, of course. However, to retain thermal equilibrium, we need to radiate as much energy per day as is absorbed from sunlight and produces by other means (fusion, etc.). Assuming constant sunlight, any increase in emission required due to higher heat generation on earth must come in one of two ways: decreasing albedo to improve earth's efficiency as a black-body radiator, or increasing temperature. The first will be hard to achieve and control, and has a side effect of increasing the amount of solar heat absorbed, probably negating any positive effect. That leaves increasing temperature on earth (which will happen without our intervention in that case). Fortunately, the radiative output increases with the fourth power of absolute temperature, so the effect may be fairly small. In this sense, solar energy (direct or indirectly through tapping into photosynthesis products, or extraction of wind energy, which is also solar driven) and geothermal energy are sensible, because they simply put existing energy input to the earth to work, rather than adding energy sources  to the system.

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I watched this a second time with the sound off to check out body language. 

Reminded me of a snake oil salesman.

Edited by astrofox

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I watched this a second time with the sound off to check out body language. 

Reminded me of a snake oil salesman.

Quite possibly the case.

Given enough time, we'll find a way. Thing is, will we allow ourselves enough time to find the solution we so desperately need? It's not looking too good at the moment.

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just a thoguht,   isn't even 100% "clean" fusion bad?

1.  we convert water into oxygen and helium...   done too much = what oceans!..   yes I know it will take a while to do..

2   we start generating heat directly, in almost limitless quantities..  that HAS to increase the total energy input to our planet...  at current levels it isn;t a problem, but once energy is "free" then we'll just use exponentially more of it.

A hot dry early death of earth?

Edited by rfdesigner

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