Wendelstein 7-X has successfully finished its second major experimental run

Reflections on fusion history, current events, and predictions for the 'fusion powered future.
User avatar
Dennis P Brown
Posts: 1566
Joined: Sun May 20, 2012 2:46 pm
Real name: Dennis P Brown
Location: Glen Arm, MD

Wendelstein 7-X has successfully finished its second major experimental run

Post by Dennis P Brown » Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:06 pm

The latest results for the Wendalstein Stellarator 7-X has achieved and successfully held plasma densities at levels that would be required for a power plant. Under these conditions it has held the plasma for 100 seconds. While only using hydrogen, and rather low plasma temps (just 20 million K) these results are records for that type of device. They will continue to upgrade the machine and advance their temps and confinement times with a goal of 30 minutes, with similar densities and heated plasma's temps near power plant levels (using 50 MW microwave heating systems.) This device continues to show improvement and isn't a concrete foundation with vague promise of future success, assuming that doubling again of its cost doesn't occur, like a certain unnamed device.

While purely a research device, this approach and concept is showing that its early promise might very well be a viable path to successful magnetically confined fusion. Unlike many current systems, this one is steadily improving and making real progress towards its stated goals.

Details at: https://www.ipp.mpg.de/4550215/11_18

User avatar
Richard Hull
Site Admin
Posts: 10992
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2001 1:44 pm
Real name: Richard Hull

Re: Wendelstein 7-X has successfully finished its second major experimental run

Post by Richard Hull » Fri Dec 07, 2018 4:04 pm

20million K = 1740 volts of potential difference between ions. This is about the potential I start with to ion bombard the water out of my fusor, once my forepump bottoms around 15 microns. As the pressure drops, (water leaves), I push it up to about 3kv to keep the bombardment alive. (34 million k).

The difference is that, in theory, they will have no wall heating as the plasma is contained. The fusor heats up nicely with zero containment. But then I don't suffer the monstrous wattages associated with the magnetic confinement and the RF exciter for the plasma.

I would love to know the summation of all the power needed for 100% of all the ancillary gear needed to "do stellaration" to the level of the 1740 volt effective ion velocities for 100 seconds.

They wouldn't dare publish this figure.

The best of all multi-million/billion dollar efforts get sooo close. They always have. Some few actually did some fusion.....Just never enough or long enough to be worth writing a letter home to mom about.

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.

User avatar
Dennis P Brown
Posts: 1566
Joined: Sun May 20, 2012 2:46 pm
Real name: Dennis P Brown
Location: Glen Arm, MD

Re: Wendelstein 7-X has successfully finished its second major experimental run

Post by Dennis P Brown » Fri Dec 07, 2018 5:15 pm

While very true Richard, can you do that for a loop of ions about a centimeter in cross-section, with a radius of nearly 2 meters, and an hydrogen ion density of 10^20 ions/cc against a 10^-9 to 10^-11 torr vacuum for 100 seconds using just a magnetic bottle? Also, while actively pumping it to maintain said temperature stable for that 100 seconds?

I believe they are using a 50 MW microwave driver for heating.

As you know well, temperature is the easy part - good size collides can get to within 10^-34 sec of the big bang in temperature - many of orders of magnitude hotter than the hottest blue giant stellar core or even hotter than a super nova exploding core. Ion temperature alone is a Red Herring

Keeping the ions stable in an orbit at these very high densities is drastically difficult and why most other approaches fail. Their achievement is a world record for a reason relative to stellarators - one should also recall that Tokamaks are lucky to run a few seconds at best. While they have a ways to go, they are certainly going in the right direction and if they do achieve their goals (run a plasma at density and temp of the best tokamak for 30 minutes then they will be very close to what is required for a true reactor.)

If, and experiments to date indicate they are on the right path, do achieve this goal, then they will have the most impressive machine in the world - not proof but certainly the required step to demonstrate that a reactor is possible. While only in time we will see, so far to date, they are achieving results that exceed their predictions and are setting records. Not bad for their second run campaign for a machine that was built on budget.

User avatar
Dennis P Brown
Posts: 1566
Joined: Sun May 20, 2012 2:46 pm
Real name: Dennis P Brown
Location: Glen Arm, MD

Re: Wendelstein 7-X has successfully finished its second major experimental run

Post by Dennis P Brown » Sun Dec 09, 2018 2:57 pm

Richard, all things related to controlled fusion is a bit of a calculated crap-shoot. Theory can take one only so far; then the experiment has to be built and tested.

Only in the last twenty years has physics advanced enough thanks to all the experiments (and associated failures) to finally get to the point where scientific 'break-even' is something one can approximately claim. Controlled real energy based fusion is still not within realistic feasibility - and in that, you are correct.

It is likely that ITER will produce significant energy but frankly, that is at least twenty years away (by their estimates) and that design , even if it works, is a terrible power plant design. Basically, an expensive physics experiment that even if successful, is a dead end.

Now the stellarator concept has been revived but not because it is a sure thing but unlike a tokamak, it can run continuously, and in theory, is innately stable to all first order plasma instabilities that plagued tokamaks. While no one could build a stellarator twenty years ago that would have any chance to even be called a real fusion test device, this isn't the case anymore.

This current device is the best hope to change the calculus of fusion research. This is due to this design being an ideal configuration for a power plant - continuous operation, the design is modular (making up keep easier), fuel addition isn't an issue nor execrating plasma.

Will it achieve their desired goals? Well, the W-7X is working better than expected (to date; that might change with more challenging experiments) and came in on budget. Those are encouraging signs unlike most past experiments by every other major project to date.

Still, even if they achieve power plant temperatures, heating rates, and densities for a full 30 minutes, it still isn't a fusion dervice at all. Adding neutrons to any device opens a monstrous set of problems that will bedevil future engineers.

But this device offers many promising avenues and is progressing unlike all other major devices - either ITER, or NIF; both of which are the big guys and total failures so far. I do believe the W-7X will achieve their goals and when (or if, as most people would feel) they get to that point. When they do in 5 - 8 years, then a real fusion device would be its logical progression (a factor of five bigger in size to achieve power plant energies; which translates to at least an order of magnitude increase in cost, at the very least - assuming the Germans build it; otherwise, as we have learned of late, then all bets are off if anyone else tries - looking at the US with both NIF (missed break even fusion by five orders of magnitude!) and Princeton (failed magnets for their newest tokamak, and their stellarator attempt ran so far over budget, it was abandoned at 80% construction point; that sounds a lot like all current fission power plants built of late here in the US, as well.)

User avatar
Richard Hull
Site Admin
Posts: 10992
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2001 1:44 pm
Real name: Richard Hull

Re: Wendelstein 7-X has successfully finished its second major experimental run

Post by Richard Hull » Sun Dec 09, 2018 10:43 pm

Regardless, Fossil fuels will be the major suppliers of all electricity for a very long time to come. Fission will trail at a distant second. Renewables will never, ever, make honorable mention on a global scale. Current fossil fuel plants, actually planned or under construction world wide, number in the thousands! Mostly in China, India, South America, Africa and Japan. 1600 coal fired plants alone are either planned or under construction in 62 countries right now! Remember, this is just all coal burning. Most all of these countries are part of the Paris Accord! We just dropped out of the Accord and boo'ed world wide for it. Australia who is making a great show of it has only a national total of 24 coal fired plants and is not doing new fission construction. For all of that Australia have been making big news of late with rolling blackouts of the big cities being rationed electricity. Great work "down under" for doing your bit. 83% of the US energy is powered by fossil and nuclear. Hydro 7.4%, 6.3% by all forms of wind. Solar contributes 1.3% while almost equaled by the renewable of 1% wood fired electrical plants in the U.S! Solar power slightly edges out wood burning electrical plants!

https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3

Notice how 3% of the renewables involve setting stuff on fire! (burning it just like coal).

As CO2 plays almost no role in any global warming scenario we need to worry much more about global cloud cover increasing as water vapor is the number one absorber of solar heat in the atmosphere.

Fusion just will not be here. Fission is not being constructed to any usable degree. Old fission plants are aging out and being shut down. All nuclear energy may soon be a lost effort with coal, natural gas and wood burning, (which in the energy world is considered carbon neutral and a renewable), will take over as they have for hundreds of years.

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.

User avatar
Steven Sesselmann
Posts: 2097
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 1:50 am
Real name: Steven Sesselmann
Location: Sydney - Australia
Contact:

Re: Wendelstein 7-X has successfully finished its second major experimental run

Post by Steven Sesselmann » Mon Dec 10, 2018 1:12 am

Stellarators are just the result of scientists getting their knickers in a knot :)

I'm with Richard on this one (for a change).

Steven
http://www.gammaspectacular.com - Gamma Spectrometry Systems
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Steven_Sesselmann - Various papers and patents on RG

User avatar
Dennis P Brown
Posts: 1566
Joined: Sun May 20, 2012 2:46 pm
Real name: Dennis P Brown
Location: Glen Arm, MD

Re: Wendelstein 7-X has successfully finished its second major experimental run

Post by Dennis P Brown » Mon Dec 10, 2018 5:04 pm

Richard, certainly fusion is not available even if all went perfectly for the W-7X or ITER over the next twenty to thirty years. And fusion is not the answer for AGW by any means unless a real proto-type plant is ever built. As for solar, it and wind, as well as the Candu fission reactors could do a great deal for non-CO2 energy generation in a safe and cost effective manner. But facts are facts and natural gas, as well as coal are, and will be our major source of energy for some time due to their currently accepted costs.

I would prefer not to get into human induced climate change issues here - but scientific fact is that CO2 is the primary driver of the increase temperatures the world is seeing; yes, water vapor is our dominate atmospheric gas that keeps the planet warm and far exceeds CO2 in quantity; however, water vapor maintains a relatively stable atm percentage and is not causing the increases the world has experienced the last hundred years. Yes, increased cloud cover can and will occur as CO2 increases cause these world wide temperature increases; that is, warmer air has room for more water vapor and evaporation rates are increased by these increased temperatures, as well.

Absolute facts are facts: World wide average temperatures are rising at an increasing rate. Only one gas has steadily increased in the atm during the time frame (the last few hundred years) the Earth has seen the increasing average temperatures, and that is driven by man-made gases: CO2 being the major one, and methane and nitrous compounds being further but far smaller drivers. Water vapor isn't the cause of the current warming rates the world has been seeing the last few hundred years.

Aside: the term "Green house gas"; that concept was disproved for real Green Houses: that is, being warmed by trapping long wavelength radiation - around 1914. I have pointed this out to the community and it is slowly being accepted so that term is falling into dis-use. While CO2 does trap long wavelength radiation, and keep the world warm (like water vapor) the process is very minor on a small scale like a green house and requires planetary scales to be seen.

Ameen Aydan
Posts: 45
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2018 7:33 pm
Real name: Ameen Aydan

Re: Wendelstein 7-X has successfully finished its second major experimental run

Post by Ameen Aydan » Tue Dec 11, 2018 5:13 am

It's very nice to see the Wendelstein 7-X break records! When I first heard of it I thought it would be another one of those hoax machines but I must say, they're doing very well compared to other multi-billion dollar rearch facilities.

Now, I would just like to ask a question. What do you think would be the easier path in changing the CO2 crises in America and the world? It's very hard to think about which energy source would better fit in being a zero emission source. Nuclear energy is a very promising energy source with only two big problems:

1. Most of the reactors we see today are based off 1950's designs and science. From my understanding, the majority of nuclear power plants that we see today are not even computerized. Half of the nation's 104 nuclear reactors are over 30 years old, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Most of the remaining reactors are at least 20 years old.

2. The US, the biggest consumer and influence of nuclear energy, has refused on multiple occasions to change it's views on better alternatives to Uranium. I'm mostly hinting at Thorium. Obviously this is to maintain its supply of nuclear arsenals and ensure it remains that way. I'm not trying to blame the US in any way, as Russia is doing very similarly. But as I see it right now, even India and China are doing better in the promotion of this method.

All the other problems associated with nuclear energy are pretty much solved. We now know how to properly store spent fuel for drastically longer times then its half life and know how to easily prevent meltdowns and other issues. The problem I see now is just adding on to this list. We know how to fix these issues, but do we have the infrastructure or the proper backing? These two issues require months if not years of painstaking pencil and eraser minds as well as major reforms to the public view of nuclear energy. If these two problems are solved, then my friend, we have reached the ultimate haven for the energy crisis.

All these issues with only one suggested solution, which I will mention soon. What i'm thinking now is, if we have to solve all these issues, would it all really be worth the time and effort? We already have renewable's at our finger tips and ready to be used. All the current technology and trouble shooting has made these a very good, and decently priced energy source. So, if we have the infrastructure for clean and efficient renewable's, why should we spend even more time fixing the mentioned issues with nuclear power? THAT is my main question! I cannot think of an answer. The closest I get is because greedy oil companies will have no benefit with renewable's. But other mining companies will make big cash selling the huge deposits of Uranium and Thorium ore, paving an easier path towards using nuclear power. But as far as it goes, is that really accurate?

On a slightly different note, the solution to the issue of nuclear is simply two words. Public awareness. The public's notion on nuclear energy is very simple to think of. When we even hear nuclear we associate it with the cold war, nuclear bombs, nuclear meltdown and God forbid nuclear war. The simple solution is to change that view into one that favours nuclear energy. Like that, support and funding will shoot up and we will see a better and greener future. How to do this however, I have not a clue. This presents yet another barrier in the path towards the success of nuclear energy.

In this whole entire thing I included only two sources, the nuclear regulatory commission, and my not so reliable brain. There will be places in this post that will NOT be accurate at all. Please point these out as to ensure this is as accurate as possible. Thank you.

Ameen Aydan
Last edited by Ameen Aydan on Tue Dec 11, 2018 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

John Futter
Posts: 1322
Joined: Thu Apr 22, 2004 2:29 am
Real name:
Contact:

Re: Wendelstein 7-X has successfully finished its second major experimental run

Post by John Futter » Tue Dec 11, 2018 6:23 am

Ameen
obviously you read this
http://english.hf.cas.cn/new/news/rn/20 ... 01186.html
before making your last statement


if not I would do a minor web search first (like I did) so as to not embarras myself


I SEE ameen HAS EDITED OUT HIS PROVOCATIVE ANTI CHINA PART OF HIS LAST POST
This leaves this reply hanging which has happened before on FUSOR.net and editing priviledges for normal users were withdrawn for quite some time

Richard feel free to erase this next week after most regulars will have seen it
Last edited by John Futter on Tue Dec 11, 2018 6:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Dennis P Brown
Posts: 1566
Joined: Sun May 20, 2012 2:46 pm
Real name: Dennis P Brown
Location: Glen Arm, MD

Re: Wendelstein 7-X has successfully finished its second major experimental run

Post by Dennis P Brown » Tue Dec 11, 2018 3:08 pm

First, I see you have read up on many issues relating to these topics. I will address some of your statements and questions. It is good you have such interests and do try to understand some of the topics related to this very complex and frankly, very technical topic (when one trys to get into the facts of why a given system is used over another available system.)

The Candu reactor is the most likely fission reactor design that can be built in a cost effective manner while offering maximum safety. Unfortunately, it is useless as a submarine reactor. So, the US nuclear industry will not build such a reactor (i.e. natural uranium and heavy water.) Their main customer (the Navy) just will not buy that design nor pay to research/develop such a design. It is the Navy with its subs and surface fleet that drives nuclear power here in the US. The weapon community has little impact out side of wanting a reliable tritium source.

There are good reasons that new US reactors have become too expensive to build - using enriched fuel has, and still does opens a Pandora's box of problems. These are not easy to address so that the reactor is low cost to build or operate.

Thorium reactors were looked at in the 60's and reexamined by others a few times over the last fifty years. They are not the answer because they cost more than uranium systems and produce less energy. Also, thorium requires uranium to operate. So, besides a large complex industry to create thorium, extract the old fuel elements to get the "activated" thorium, then deal with its wastes, along with a still required uranium industrial base, all one gets is a lower energy fuel (compared to uranium.) That just isn't cost effective. Until uranium isn't available (and the world has a lot - ignoring the oceans and that can be extracted within a factor of eight compared to the cost from most available ores), thorium isn't going to be used for fission plants.

I will discus a few issues to why reactors are so expensive and to address the issue of why human operators can not be easily replaced.

Due to the vast complexity of maintaining steady and safe power levels in any enriched fuel reactor, writing the vast array of code, debugging it, and then certify it so as to "computerize" a reactor is not considered feasible - the length of code is too vast for any group of humans to reliably do. So, to my knowledge only one such reactor has ever been "computerized". No surprise, it was a Candu reactor. Hence human required operator costs are an issue for fission reactors (ignoring the large requirement of security people and complex security systems: these add to the cost that coal or natural gas plants don't require to such levels.) Also, waste fuel can be weaponized - that doesn't occur for other power systems. That creates even more issues that most people overlook in saying we should build more reactors. Finally, facts are facts: stuff happens and when a fission reactor does go, (or its temp storage waste fuel pool) things can get very, very ugly (remember Japan recently - those open reactors are still burning and creating a very bad nuclear contamination issue; no one has yet figured out what to do.) People do notice these issues and engineers must, if responsible, build to handle such events.

Storing waste safely for many hundreds of thousands of years isn't really well known. But I consider this a red herring (once we develop even just an ITER level reactor, waste fuel could be made safe using the neutron flux.)

If you think all problems with fission based nuclear power are solved, you need to get into that field and tell them. Making inexpensive, reliable and truly safe fission based reactors is far from "well understood."

As for why renewable sources are not even more common, that is a topic far beyond these pages or forum. Suffice it to say that this is a fairly cost effective technology that is mature, and works well for what it does. Wind can compete with coal where there is sufficient wind! But generally, renewables - especially solar - simply cannot provide power in any way or manner at power levels that coal or natural gas can (giga-watts in small plants) in places we desire/require massive sources of power. This ignores aircraft - there is not any good substitute for kerosene - no, hydrogen isn't.

The simple answer is most certainly not public awareness of the technology issues alone; please. Global warming caused by humans is a scientific fact and large numbers of educated people refuse to believe this easy to understand issue. Saying awareness of the complex and very high level issues related to trade offs and special requirements as well as safety and costs associated with new power sources/technological advancements is far beyond the average person who is more concerned about maintaining their life style in this very rapidly changing economic environment. But I digress. We are all cost sensitive and cheap energy is what drives all our lifestyles and provides the living standards we expect. That factor has to always be added to the calculus (which I really haven't.)

I wish to apologize to both Richard and forum readers for bring up these topics that have little to do with the forum but I feel answering questions with as accurate information as I can (within limits of space) is part of this forum requirements, even when off topic.

Post Reply