Private funding of fusion research

It may be difficult to separate "theory" from "application," but let''s see if this helps facilitate the discussion.
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Richard Hull
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Re: Private funding of fusion research

Post by Richard Hull » Fri May 06, 2016 5:37 pm

As always, for the past 70 years, we await power ready fusion, but remain buoyed by all the "real soon nows" that seem to be the super positive sign posts to fusion.
My bet remains on the lucky donkey, but I won't go so far as to say "real soon now" I think that is a copywrited statement.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Dennis P Brown
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Re: Private funding of fusion research

Post by Dennis P Brown » Thu May 12, 2016 11:02 am

Have to both agree and disagree; fusion power (a reactor that produces far more power than it consumes) will be available within thirty years even at current rates of advancement. AS for wall power - that might not be available for fifty or more years like Richard is saying. The sheer cost of a fusion reactor will eclipse fission power (I would speculate at least an order of magnitude at best, once the technological barriers are crossed.)

Current fission power is far too expensive to be economically viable today but it still can be built within a cost structure that we can tolerate (as taxpayers.) The issue is that even when fusion gets well over break why would one substitute a far more expensive power system for a cheaper fission plant that already costs significantly more to run than a gas based power plant?

Also, even the radiation waste issue for a fusion plant will easily be on a par with fission plants making them no better (waste wise.) Worse, the neutron threat to the walls of a fusion reactor will make any such reactor an utter nightmare to operate (much less shut down and dispose of); so such fusion reactors will be experimental only until all economic fission fuel sources are exhausted first (sea water is close to viable as a uranium source and that could give us close to a thousand years of low carbon power even without the dirty and dangerous breeder.)

So, until better fission reactors are built again - natural uranium fueled ones, that is - why bother with fusion? That is, we know fusion will not be clean (waste wise) and will be highly more costly than fission. Just trying to lower carbon footprint can be done with fission and is a very mature technology with known risks and costs (that are carefully hidden by government underwriting ...but so is kerosene for our far too cheap jet transport services ... .)

Investing in fusion energy by anyone but a government is foolish. Scientific research in fusion does make sense since it does have future potential.

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